A high powered commission to approve regularisation within 60 days
The Sindh government has drafted an ordinance to regularize illegal buildings and to stop anti-encroachment operations in the province.
The ordinance has been sent to the Sindh Governor Imran Ismail for his approval and promulgation.
If approved, the ordinance would halt anti-encroachment operations from Karachi to Kashmore with immediate effect.
The development was announced by Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab on Wednesday during a press conference at the Sindh Assembly Committee Room.
The ordinance comes as manual labourers continue to take apart the Nasla Tower after orders from the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Wahab said the Sindh government has drafted the ordinance to enable the regularisation of residential and commercial buildings constructed in violation of building plans.
The ordinance provides for a commission to approve the regularisation.
The commission, headed by a retired judge, will decide on the regularisation of commercial or residential buildings with the imposition of a fine/penalty in terms of regularisation fee at specific rates. It will rule on any regularisation application within 60 days.
The commission will also recommend action against officers responsible for approving illegal constructions. It will be authorised to impose fines on builders and/or penalize them.
Additionally, the commission will use judicial powers to summon any government officer or documents before it. Its rulings would not be challenged in any court of law, according to the draft ordinance titled “The Sindh Commission for Regularisation of Construction Ordinance, 2021.”
The ordinance will not apply to lands under cantonments or the federal government.
Sindh chief minister would appoint members to the commission within 15 days after the promulgation of the ordinance. The Sindh local government or law minister, local government secretary, chairman of the Association of Builders and Developers, an architect, lawyers, and other professionals will be appointed to the commission as members.
Administrator Wahab claimed that illegal constructions were a direct consequence of the policies adopted by previous city governments.
“Unfortunately, the roads in Karachi were commercialised in the past without any proper planning,” he said
He said the commercialisation of roads began in the tenure of former Karachi Mayor Niamatullah Khan and although petitions were submitted before courts challenging the commercialisation, the judiciary rejected the petitions and ruled that the city district government Karachi was authorised to change the land use.
“We are paying the price of that verdict, as commercial and residential high rise buildings have been constructed on residential plots at Khalid Bin Waleed and other roads,” Wahab added.
This has destroyed the entire underground water and sewerage network, he said adding that the commercialisation also created problems for people, as they do not know which property documents were valid.
Karachi administrator also questioned the regularisation of buildings in Islamabad and Punjab.
“People ask how the Bani Gala has been regularised? Why any action was not taken against a building constructed at the Shahrah-e-Jamhuriat in Islamabad?” he said.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar brought a law for the regularisation of illegal buildings and no one opposed, the administrator said.
He said the PPP had taken stock of the situation and the predicament people faced and decided to introduce the regularisation ordinance.
Karachi Administrator revealed one of the criteria for the regularisation of the buildings.
He said action would be taken against structures built over stormwater drains, but residential buildings that did not affect the water flow would be regularised.
Wahab hoped that the governor would approve the ordinance as it was being issued in the larger interest of the people.
The ordinance drafted by the Sindh government is similar to the law approved in Punjab. However, there is an additional clause that provides for stopping the anti-encroachment drive across the province with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, Association of Builders and Developers Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani has termed his association’s talks with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Governor Imran Ismail as “positive.”
Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club, he said ABAD has stopped construction at 300 ongoing projects in Karachi pending a decision on the regularisation of buildings.
“We want the same regularisation policy for Karachi and Sindh that has been adopted in Punjab and the rest of the country,” Sheikhani said.
He claimed ABAD members were being asked to move to Islamabad and Lahore to start projects there as the Karachi builders have the skills and competency to construct high-rise buildings.
“Unfavourable conditions may compel the builders to windup their construction business from Karachi and left for other cities,” he warned.
The ABAD has submitted its charter of demand to the Sindh governor and the chief minister, he said.