CDA, PHA ignore SC verdict on non-conforming use of residential units

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The Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA) have failed to implement Supreme Court (SC) orders in enforcing by-laws regarding the non-conforming use of residential units in the capital.

The Supreme Court had asked the CDA to take action against commercial use of residential area in Islamabad without exception. Non-conforming use of residential units in the capital has become a major issue but civic agency was looking helpless to do anything.

Many businesses owners shifted their businesses to PHA flats near Zero Point in Sector G-7/1 after vacating their previous places in compliance of apex court’s orders.

Shops and restaurants in up-market centres like F-6, F-7 and F-8 have been targeted by CDA, whereas PHA apartments located in the centre of federal capital and elsewhere somehow were ignored by the authorities in this regard.

The PHA constructed B-type flats in 1998 to overcome housing shortage and provide shelters to homeless people and low paid groups in the Federal Capital. The PHA allotted the flats to the respective owners under a comprehensive allotment deed to use them strictly for residential purposes. Since taking possession of flats the trend of their commercial use is growing among local private business groups and companies.

Almost half of occupants of the flats are running their businesses from here due to their prime location right near Zero Point. The PHA had constructed 208 flats in Sector G-7/1, most of them are occupied by shipping companies, property consultants, overseas employment promoters, freight forwarding agents, media companies and other business groups which is total violation of PHA by-laws.

The rent of these flats is higher by Rs 10,000 to 12,000 than that of same category in G-8/4 due to their commercial importance and growing attraction for businessmen. By hiring these flats, the businessmen save some 40pc to 50pc rent, which they have to bear for a commercial building located at comparatively unattractive areas.

Kamran Raza, who is running a business from a flat in Sector G-7/1, said that these flats help businessmen avoid notices by CDA, save rental for a spacious accommodation than commercially better location besides tax evasion as they need not to put up any signage and to protect business from taxation as he need no hoarding for his business projection.

He said that he shifted his business about one year before and no concerned department has asked him about the violation of building regulation act. Families residing in PHA and the surrounding areas of State Bank Colony, ZTBL Colony and CDA Colony have expressed their great concerned over mysterious activities of occupants of PHA flats.

They said that the illegal use of residential houses was not only increasing house shortage but also creating security problems as many employees and visitors come there daily which led to difficulties for families living in these flats.

They were in the view that involvement of influential people as well as PHA’s officials had been the main that the violation continued unabated.  They alleged the PHA’s oversight was to blame for the housing shortage, high rents and flat prices.