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Lawless LDA fails to check unbridled land mafia

The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has no building code to check the durability of buildings being constructed by the land mafia and the non-existence of a separate department to enforce the federal building by-laws had allowed mushroom growth of several plazas in the City, The Post has learnt.

An LDA official said that the major cause of illegal construction in the City was non-availability of building codes. He said that the building laws defined the standard of structure and the material to be used in the construction of multi-storey buildings and plazas.

He said the LDA”s Building Regulations were printed in 1984 for the first time in the history of Pakistan, but were not consolidated. He said that LDA had no mechanism till 2005 for the approval of building map plan and its enforcement. The existing LDA were converted into a written document after consolidation and were named the LDA Building Regulations-2005.

The official said that all the illegal buildings and plazas in the city including the Shahalam Market were constructed in the absence of building laws.

He added that according to the existing building by-laws the LDA officials were only responsible to approve the map. Inspection of the building structures by inspectors or the LDA Town Planning Department was not mandatory, the LDA official said, requesting anonymity.

He said only the building having 38-feet high plinth was checked by LDA officials whereas the rest of the building was supervised by the architects registered with the LDA.

The examination of building material including cement, iron bars and crushed stone was not the LDA”s responsibility. However, the LDA started checking the material only two years ago. The step-wise approval of the map was also not made mandatory in the existing bylaws, the official said.

The old buildings bylaws described that if a violation was committed under the compoundable offences (violation of approved map more than two feet), the construction would be stopped but there was a rare example of the implementation of this law, the official added. A compoundable office is defined as a violation which is pardonable after a fine is paid by the violator. In non-compoundable offence, the issue is settled only after the building under question is demolished.

An official from the Town Planning Department admitted there was no consolidated record of violation of laws about the buildings that were declared illegal. He added the violations varied from building to building, therefore it was impossible to keep a documented record.

He added the LDA had few inspectors to conduct wide-range operations against the illegal construction which resulted into the mushroom growth of such buildings not only on the plots of LDA and City District Government but also on the private lands.

The Town Planning Department official said that the influential land mafia and businessmen were playing with the lives of citizens by commercialising the residential property without taking into account the agony of residents and without enhancing the capacity of physical infrastructure to make it suitable for commercial activity.

He admitted that the Town Planning Department was helpless in stopping the land mafia from constructing illegal buildings and plazas.

A survey conducted by LDA officials showed that more than 2,000 plazas and buildings had been constructed without the approval of site map in violation of the building by laws. These plazas have been constructed at Gulberg, Shahalam Market, Johar Town, Township, the Walled City and in the new residential schemes.

The Post has information that illegal plazas were being built in the Walled City but the construction was not conspicuous as the area was densely populated with narrow lanes. “The construction work is under way and the building material is brought and the waste is thrown out during the nights,” a resident said.

Shamas told The Post that the LDA inspectors detected such construction through the movement of trolleys carrying building material but they bargained with the owners and brushed the issue under the carpet.

A building at Shahalam Market which collapsed recently was also being constructed in violation of the building by-laws as no map was got approved by the LDA. An enquiry report showed that substandard material was used during the construction of building.

Source: The Post

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