The Karachi registry of the country’s top court observed on Saturday that the entire metropolis will turn into a concrete jungle if six-storey buildings are allowed to be constructed everywhere in the city.
The Supreme Court’s two-member bench headed by Justice Faisal Arab made the observation during the hearing of a petition regarding the non-supply of potable water and the lack of a proper sewerage system across the province.
The SC bench made it clear that the court’s restriction on constructing buildings of up to six floors is limited to only those multi-storey structures that the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) has approved.
The court observed that the permission of raising six-storey buildings has nothing to do with those residential and commercial areas of the city where construction of more than ground-plus-two floors is prohibited.
The bench also observed that the court’s order to restrict erecting structures to six floors is subject to selective areas where such permission has been granted by the SBCA, and that such permission cannot be granted for the entire city because otherwise it would turn into a concrete jungle.
The SC made it clear that the restriction on constructions up to six floors is not law, but the court’s restraining order was passed keeping in view the shortage of water across the metropolis.
The SC bench directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and other civic bodies to clean all storm-water drains across the city before the start of the upcoming monsoon season.
Sindh’s additional advocate general informed the court that work to clean the four major drains of the city, including those at Mehmoodabad, Chakra Goth and Korangi, has been started. He asked the court for six weeks’ time to submit a compliance report.
The bench observed that it is disappointing that the clean-up work has been started after the intervention of the court rather than the relevant authorities starting it on their own.
The petitioner’s counsel, Shahab Usto, informed the court that the government has allocated funds of Rs500 million for the drains’ clean-up. He expressed hope that the cleaning of the drains will be completed within six weeks.
He said the judicial commission investigating the non-provision of potable water, proper sanitation facilities and healthy environment to Sindh’s people has also been visiting other districts of the province to complete this exercise.
The court observed that the provision of clean drinking water is a fundamental right of the citizens and proper drainage and sewerage is also interlinked with this issue.
The SC bench directed the additional advocate general to submit a progress report with regard to the cleaning of the storm-water drains and then adjourned the hearing until May 5.
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