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Ignoring building laws

Rented out to a private school, a five-storey house in the National Police Foundation (NPF) housing scheme in sector E-11, having two basements and three upper floors, amply shows that most of the private and cooperative housing societies do not follow building by-laws of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

Owners of plots in private and cooperative housing schemes sometime take undue benefit because of their own influence or having good relations with the housing scheme’s management, and do not follow the CDA’s set parameters for construction. All housing societies are bound to implement the CDA’s building by-laws.

Sometimes owners of houses in private housing schemes do not keep open the setback areas of plots (five to ten feet on three sides of the house). Though under the CDA’s by-laws only one basement is allowed, some have constructed two. Some have
built full-fledge third storey on their houses. But the CDA permits only a room on the third floor, measuring 200 to 400 feet depending on the plot’s size. In case of big plots, no construction is allowed on car porch but one can see rooms and other construction on that area of big houses.

Taking notice of these violations, Senate’s Standing Committee on Cabinet has recommended to bringing all private and cooperative housing schemes in Islamabad under the control of Building Control Section (BCS) of the authority. The BCS checks violations of building by-laws in sectoral or municipal area of the city.

Malik Murtaza, director-general BCS, says new rules were being drafted to bring all private housing schemes under the section’s control. If this happens, it will be a big change as there is not check on construction going on in the private and cooperative housing schemes.

But an office-bearer of a cooperative housing society maintained that almost all private and cooperative housing schemes follow the CDA’s by-laws.

Presently the practice in private and cooperative housing schemes is that site plans of residential and commercial buildings
are passed by the management committees of relevant schemes. They usually follow the CDA’s by-laws. Similarly the rules in the private housing schemes and the CDA laws are almost same, but there is no check on violations.

Presently, there are 55 functional private and cooperatives housing schemes in the capital. Of them, 18 have acquired No Objection Certificate (NoC) from the authority. As many of the schemes were launched more than two decades, some have been fully developed.

According to the law, all private and cooperatives housing societies are registered with the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration, commonly called local administration. Those launched by private firms are registered with the CDA.

However, the authority is responsible for monitoring the development work in both cooperatives and private housing
schemes.

So far 51 cooperatives have been registered with the local administration and of them 46 are stated to be functional. Similarly, nine private housing schemes have been registered with the CDA.

Requesting anonymity, the office-bearer of the housing society said although the overall performance of cooperatives and private housing schemes was not up to the mark, it was far better than the CDA’s, adding that the authority could not develop a single residential sector completely in the last 23 years.

He said private and cooperative housing societies have provided housing facilities outside the CDA’s municipal limits in Zone-II, IV and V, sharing the authority’s burden of providing accommodation facilities to hundreds of families in Islamabad.

But building violations are also sprawling in the CDA’s limits (residential sectors and commercial areas) and the BCS seems helpless in taking any action against powerful violators.

Using houses for commercial activities is one violation that is going on without any check. From time to time the CDA bosses do issue statements vowing action against those who have rented out their houses for commercial ventures, but nothing is practically done.

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