Lahore: THE much-awaited demolition drive against illegally constructed high-rises in the provincial metropolis finally kicked off on Sunday as the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) started razing three out of 400 illegal plazas.

The issue of construction of high-rises in Lahore came into lime light after the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) took suo moto notice and barred the construction of high-rises in May 2007. Later, the apex court constituted a commission for the inspection of all buildings and finally on December 4, 2009, the court vacated the stay order, unleashing the LDA to start demolition of these structures.

The massive demolition drive against illegal high-rises started on the directions of LDA Director General Omar Rasool who along with other senior officials of LDA monitored the operation. Heavy contingents of police accompanied LDA teams.

On Sunday morning, LDA teams equipped with heavy machinery reached the four storey Al Rehman Medical Complex on Ferozpur Road in Naseerabad area and started its demolition.

They said the medical complex was constructed on the land of Kachi Abadi and such land could not be used for commercial purposes under rules. Officials said owners of this medical complex did not get the building map of medical complex approved from the LDA.

The second site where LDA teams started demolition was Inam Complex on Ferozpur Road in Garden Town area. The teams started demolition of top three floors of this high-rise because they were constructed without approval. LDA workers went on the top of this plaza and started razing illegal floors.

The third site was Rabi Centre on Main Boulevard, Gulberg, LDA officials said two extra floors were constructed in the plaza without approval while shops were also constructed in the car parking area. When the LDA teams reached Rabi Centre, they faced resistance by local traders but police managed to control the situation after which LDA officials and labourers started razing illegally constructed floors and shops.

LDA Chief Town Planner Muhammad Wasim talking to The News said that the authority had prepared a complete and comprehensive demolition plan. He said the authority will engage private companies to achieve the target of demolishing all illegally constructed plazas in the city. The commission had identified around 400 such sites and the LDA had to demolish some of them completely and remaining partially, he said.

After coming into power, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif had also constituted a committee to carry out a survey of illegally constructed buildings in the city. During the survey, the City District Government Lahore and the Board of Revenue also jointly planned to launch demolition plans to completely bulldoze around 169 commercial plazas and buildings constructed in sheer violation of building by-laws in five towns.

LDA officials said the commission inspected 170 out of 645 buildings during its survey and found 51 buildings constructed in violation of LDA by-laws. The commission suggested complete demolition of 25 buildings. Later, the LDA also planned to raze 45 high-rises and partial demolition of about 150 other plazas constructed in violation of building by-laws under the recommendations of the commission in 2008. Officials said the plan could not make any headway due to the judicial crisis.

Sources in the LDA said according to the list provided to the SCP by the LDA, some 45 illegal high rising buildings including 15 at Model Town Link Road, five at Gulberg, six at PIA Housing Society, two at Johar Town, four at Shah Alam, three at Peco Road and two in Allama Iqbal Town would be demolished completely. Other illegal high-rises include 75 at Gulshan-i-Ravi Scheme, 30 at Johar Town, 12 in PIA Housing Society, three each at Samag Berg, Garden Town, Samanabad and one each in Faisal Town, New Garden Town and LDA controlled area, sources said.

The LDA’s chief town planner said the authority was committed to demolishing these buildings and had kicked off a massive drive on Sunday by starting demolition of three of such buildings. He said the authority would outsource demolition process, which will not stop until razing of all illegally constructed structures in the provincial capital.

Source: The News