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September 18, 2018

Judicial commission orders action against SBCA officials


September 18, 2018

The Supreme Court-backed judicial commission, looking into the authorities’ failure to ensure clean drinking water, sanitation and a healthy environment for the people of Sindh, on Monday expressed dissatisfaction over the actions taken by the Sindh Building Control Authority against its officials for failure to stop unauthorised construction of multistory buildings in the city.

The commission, headed by Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, directed the SBCA DG to initiate departmental proceedings against all those officials who were prima facie found guilty of patronising violations of serious nature which were not compoundable, and if after inquiry they were found guilty they would be proceeded against in terms of their service laws by awarding them major/minor penalities depending on the gravity of the charge.

The commission inquired the SBCA director general as to what actions had been taken against the officials of the SBCA for their failure in controlling unauthorised buildings in the city.

The SBCA director general submitted that some of the officers had been transferred and some of the officers had been placed under suspension for patronising unauthorised constructions.

The commission directed the DG SBCA to take initiate departmental proceedings against delinquent officers and submit a compliance report within six weeks.

Regarding commercial allotment of land in the SITE area, the secretary industries submitted that plots in SITE were regulated by the board under the companies law and the same were allotted through the managing director of SITE, who was a nominee of the Sindh government.

The additional advocate general submitted that one per cent of the entire area had to be allotted for commercial purposes in terms of regulations 20-4.2 of the Karachi Building & Town Planning Regulations 2002, adding that the ration would be applicable to SITE throughout Sindh.

To a commission query about the details of commercial allotments, he submitted that he did not have the details of the plots which the SITE had allotted for commercial purposes in terms of the ratio.

The commission observed that the object of raising such a question was that once SITE had allotted industrial plots to any person and on his failure to run the industry on a profit basis could he or SITE on its own change the land use from industrial to any other commercial activity.

It further observed that prima facie such conversion was not permissible for multifarious reasons as commercial permission by SITE had burdened the civic agencies with water, sewerage and municipal disposals for which there was no satisfactory mechanism within different SITEs, which the commission had visited so far.

The commission observed that the spirit of the commercial activity was being misinterpreted and any commercial activity if at all should have been limited to that particular industry only in the shape of a fair-price shop.

It added that raising commercial plazas on industrial plots was prima facie against the terms and defeated the very purpose of creating industrial zones. It remarked that it was the intervention of the commission that compelled the industrialists for the installation of treatment plants within their industries along with septic tanks wherever necessary.

It observed that entire industrial effluent was being discharged openly in the open drains of SITE against the terms of the laws on which industrial plots had been allotted, which in turn was being discharged in the sea without any treatment, damaging the marine life and multiplying waterborn issues of Karachi.

This has also negatively impacted the export of fish; besides, the shipping industry has come to a standstill.

The commission observed that the situation was very alarming and permissions of such nature would increase problems if not checked at this point of time. It directed the law officer to file comments on the allotment of land for commercial purposes.

On functions of a Chinese private company lifting garbage in different districts of the city, the commission directed the chairman of M/s Changie Kangie sanitation company to appear in person.

It directed the contractor to provide the list of the employees he had hired in terms of the contract along with their salaries which he claims to pay them.

It observed that future salaries of these contract employees of the contractor would be paid by the DG of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board adjustable from the amounts which he released to the contractor. It observed that in case a list has not been provided the penal clause shall be invoked and the amounts released to the contractor will be adjusted through this penal clause.

The commission also took exception to the act of MPA Mahesh Kumar Malani for change of location of RO plants and observed that the MPA had no business to identify the locations as it was the domain of the water commission. It observed that in future the MPA shall avoid intervening in the work of the commission, failing which he will be exposed to the consequences not only by the commission but also by the Supreme Court.

The commission directed project director to ensure that locations should not be utilised or changed to extend political favour. It directed the focal person to resolve the grievance of the citizens with regard to the shortage of water with the managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.