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January 27, 2019

PPP, MQM-P united against razing illegal buildings

Top Story

January 27, 2019

KARACHI: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Saturday got united to save the wedding halls in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s order to demolish illegal buildings in Karachi. 

The Karachi Marriage Halls Association took back their call of closing down wedding halls from today (Sunday) after receiving assurances from the Sindh Local Bodies Minister Saeed Ghani.

Earlier, the association announced that wedding halls across the metropolis will be closed from today (Sunday) in the light of notices issued by the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) on the Supreme Court orders.

The Supreme Court on January 22 barred the use of residential houses for commercial purposes. "Wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas will not be constructed on residential plots," the SC Karachi Registry ordered.

Further, the court had ordered all encroachments across the metropolis should be immediately razed. “The buildings which are not part of the master plan should be demolished. The city should be restored to how it was 40 years ago. No matter how many buildings there are, they should be demolished," Justice Gulzar Ahmed had said.

Following the Supreme Court’s orders, the SBCA sent notices to halt all commercial activities.

According to officials, the SBCA is scheduled to begin its anti-encroachment operation from tomorrow (Monday).

Members of the Karachi Marriage Halls Association staged a protest outside the SBCA’s office located in Civic Centre on Saturday after receiving notices. “We were given a three-day notice. Where are we supposed to work?” the protesters asked.

Earlier, Saeed Ghani assured that no wedding hall will be demolished in the metropolis tomorrow (Monday).

Meanwhile, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar asked the Sindh government to file a review petition on the verdict of the Supreme Court ordering demolition of all wedding halls, plazas and shopping malls on residential lands.

While addressing a press conference, the Karachi mayor said that buildings including wedding halls, plazas and shopping malls do not lie under anti-encroachment law. Wasim Akhtar asked the provincial government not to demolish legal buildings and wedding halls located on residential lands. – Agencies

Waqar Bhatti adds: Marriage hall owners on Saturday called off their strike to keep wedding halls closed on Sunday after the provincial government directed the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to withdraw its notice to marriage halls in Karachi while the chief minister also constituted a committee to look into the matter and seek at least 45 days’ time from the Supreme Court of Pakistan before taking any action in this regard.

An announcement regarding closure of marriage halls by the their owners from Sunday had sent alarm bells ringing and the entire provincial government started efforts to resolve the issue, at least, for the time being, as hundreds of marriage ceremonies were planned for Sunday and it could have resulted in extreme agony and difficulties for thousands of families in the city. Sindh Chief Minister syed Murad Ali Shah held a hurriedly-called meeting on late Saturday night and directed the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to immediately withdraw notices issued to marriage hall owners in the city, and asked the Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani to constitute a committee for looking into the matter as well as seeking at least 45 days’ time before taking any action in this regard.

“The SBCA should immediately withdraw its notices to the marriage halls and let the committee sort this matter out. The committee would review this issue on case to case basis and seek at least 45 days’ time before taking any action,” Murad Ali Shah said while presiding over a hurriedly-called meeting on the issue of marriage halls.

The meeting was attended Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Sindh Adviser Information Murtaza Wahab, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shalwani, Director General SBCA, secretaries of Local Government and Home as well as Advocate General Sindh and other senior officials, who discussed the crisis-like situation after SBCA’s eviction notices to marriage hall owners in the city following the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s directives.

Briefing newsmen about decisions taken at the meeting by the CM, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said no action would be taken against marriage halls which have been commercialized as per law while for the remaining halls, which are functioning on residential properties and have not been regularised, time would be sought from the Supreme Court of Pakistan before any final decision.

“Today a notice was published in newspapers which resulted in chaos in the city and created a lot of confusion among the marriage halls owners and common people. Marriage hall owners announced to close down all the wedding halls in response to the notice which could have resulted in cancellation of hundreds of weddings and created problems for thousands of people,” Saeed Ghani said while briefing newsmen about the decisions taken at the meeting chaired by Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah.

Accompanied by Information and Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Saeed Ghani reiterated that he would not take any action against residential buildings as it could result in the worst type of humanitarian crisis in the city and also criticised Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders, saying most of these illegal steps were taken by them when they were in power during the tenure of Mustafa Kamal as the Karachi Nazim.

Earlier, the Marriage Halls’ Association had announced cancellation of all the weddings scheduled on Sunday and to keep marriage halls closed after they were served eviction notices by the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) but when Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani assured them that no action would be taken against marriage halls from Monday, the association agreed to call of its strike. The Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) had served most of the marriage halls with eviction notices, citing the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s directives which had asked the authorities to demolish commercial buildings and structures which had been raised on residential plots, including marriage halls.

General Secretary of the All Karachi Marriage Halls Association Khawaja Tariq told newsmen on Saturday that they had decided to go on a complete strike by closing down all the marriage halls in the city from Sunday after they were served with eviction notices by the SBCA but when Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani assured them that no action would be taken against marriage halls from Monday, they called off their strike.

“Hundreds of marriage ceremonies are scheduled to be held on Sunday and in the coming week and people have spent millions of rupees in advance for these ceremonies. Owners of marriage halls as well as hundreds of families who had marriage ceremonies were extremely disturbed after these notices,” Khawaja Tariq said.

A large number of owners of marriage halls also held a protest at the SBCA at Civic Center against eviction notices by the building control authority, saying they had been given only three days to vacate their properties, which was not possible for them as they were holding marriage ceremonies scheduled on the weekend and week days ahead.

Office-bearers of the marriage halls’ association had also held talks with the officials of Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) but when these talks failed, they had announced to close down the marriage halls in the city on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar said on Saturday that the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) will not raze the legal marriage halls in the metropolis. “The Sindh government should file a review petition on the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding demolition of all wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas constructed on residential plots,” he said while addressing a news conference in Karachi.

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