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Sindh to have a province-wide master plan authority 'Sindh Urban and Regional Master Plan Authority' to discourage illegal construction of multistory buildings.

The Sindh government has decided to establish a new body to develop a master plan for the urban areas as well as re gions in the province. The body would be called as Sindh Urban and Regional Master Plan Authority. The reason for setting up such an authority is closely linked with the mushroom growth of illegal construction of buildings especially in older town areas of Karachi and other cities of the province. With the birth of this authority, the Master Plan Department working under the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) would be eliminated in practical terms.

A meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah was informed that a draft bill had been finalized and sent to the Sindh law department for vetting. The bill is expected to be presented by the Sindh local government secretary in a meeting of the Sindh cabinet. Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani informed the moot that illegal construction of buildings continued especially in old areas of the city.

The people have been constructing up to five-storey buildings in the metropolis. A participant who wants to remain anonymous said the authorities did admit their failure to stop illegal construction of multistorey buildings in the city. A recent incident of a building that collapsed in Karachi's Timber Market also came in a reference. SBCA director general told the meeting that the building in question in the Timber Market area had been declared unsafe for living prior to the incident, however, the occupants had refused to vacate it.

The old areas of the city still have as many as 382 buildings which have been declared dangerous and advertisements had been published in newspapers to make people aware of the issue. The chief secretary asked the relevant officials to take due lawful action against the builders responsible for the construction of unsafe buildings in the city. With the new authority, the Master Plan department, living since 1960, will be closed.

The Sindh Urban and Regional Master Plan Authority Act is likely to be tabled in the assembly during the session starting January 22. Local Government Secretary Roshan Ali Shaikh was quoted as saying in a report that that the idea was to introduce the Sindh Urban and Regional Master Plan Authority to undertake town planning across the province.

"The authority would work independently with a separate director-general in all regions of Sindh and having its headquarters in Karachi," Shaikh added. The aim is to reformulate urban and regional lands and housing standards to provide improved conditions, particularly in urban areas, he claimed.

The draft of the Act is nearly ready and it will be sent to the Sindh Law department for review before it is put to the floor of the house of elected representatives. The Master Plan department was a part of the Karachi Development Authority from 1957 to 2000. In 2001, the City District Government Karachi was established under Musharraf's new Sindh Local Government Ordinance 2001. Under this ordinance, the Karachi Development Authority, Karachi Building Control Authority, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and Master Plan Group of Offices were placed under the control of the CDGK.

But when the Pakistan People's Party came to power in 2008, it restored the old Sindh Local Government Ordinance 1979 and later changed it to introduce the Sindh Local Government Act 2013. Under this law, the Sindh government placed the Master Plan department under the Sindh Building Control Authority, an anomaly as technically the Master Plan should tell the SBCA what to do and not the other way around.
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Publication:Pakistan Engineering Review
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 24, 2020
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