Illegal constructions put adverse impacts on environment, people’s health

Illegal constructions put adverse impacts on environment, people’s health

By M. Salman Raza

MULTAN, Nov 07 (APP):The unbridled construction activities to meet needs of the growing populations in the city lead to have adverse consequences on governance systems, environment, people’s health, transportation services and overall citizens’ well-being.

Environmentalists sound warning that un-approved commercial or residential constructions cause big damages to the ecosystem as builders least care to safeguard the environment and natural resources. It soars humidity level combined with hot temperature that affects human health to a great deal which calls for rectification of policies, improved planning, stricter laws’ implementation and technological improvement for governance.

Enforcement team of Multan Development Authority (MDA) has succeeded to demolish various illegal constructions during series of operations launched against encroachment in different parts of the city including Sher Shah road, Tehsildar Mor to Mill Phattak bypass road near Head Naubahar. It has erased dozens of illegal installations in past few days.

The enforcement cell escorted by heavy contingent of police faced heavy resistance during operation at Bosan Road, Chungi no 9, Rasheedabad, Chowk Kumharaanwala, MA Jinnah, fruit and vegetable market, Qasimpur Colony roads while clearing paths and pavements surrounded by the encroachers.

Taking action on the complaints received through Pakistan Citizen Portal, the Director General MDA Agha Muhammad Ali Abbas directed officers to launch operation at Double Phattak Chowk, New Shah Shams Colony, Kumharanwala Chowk flyover and green belts.

Expressing resolve to treat encroachers with iron hands, the DG said it is not only creating hurdle in uninterrupted traffic flow but also damaging beauty of the city at large. Despite regular operation initiated against encroachment mafia, it has not been yet removed completely. Sometimes it appears to have been pivoted as constant phenomenon that never going to be dismantled from the society for good.

Director Town Planning (DTP) MDA stated in this regard that since 2019, there have been 204 residential colonies marked as illegal in different parts of the district.

At least 23 out of 204 colonies are fixed with heavy fine, while cases of the rest of 181 left pending for the last about three years after getting sub-judice since their owners have moved to the court, he said. Worse of the matter is that there is no system available to restrict buyer from purchasing property into illegal residential colonies.

“It is two-way agreement reached out between owner and buyer” said Deputy Director Enforcement MDA Mohsin Raza. However, he said that they write letter to Revenue Department to impose ban on sale, purchase of plots in unapproved residential area.

But unfortunately buyers don’t get aware of illegality of the colony. They get it to know when paid out entire premiums to the scheme’s owner to retain property’s ownership. According to him, the practice could be hampered if some Apps were created which are not yet under consideration.

PRO and Deputy Director Urban Planning-1 Muhammed Ashraf, responding query made through RTI’s submission, said MDA regularly issues advertisements to trace illegal installations through local newspapers. He said action used to be taken out against them under the given rules and regulations.

In past, cases of many illegal installations were resolved by collecting legal commercial dues which could not get submitted to the authority, it is said. The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Multan claimed to have initiated regular enquires into the alleged illegal construction found across the district.

Sources also claim that some officers have allegedly been involved in allowing for the buildings to be constructed without seeking formal approvals. This has cost heavy revenue loss to various departments in the city.

Municipal laws for building residential occupation or commercial entity are notified by the government time to time under the respective section of the commercialization Rules/Land use Rules of the Authority.

It included as submitting building plans to the authority for obtaining approval to hold structure first, constitution of commercialization committee to approve building plans, submitting copy of deposited commercial fee challan respectively and later final approval is given by Deputy Commissioner in its ‘high-level’ meeting arranged almost every month.

PRO MDA Javed Bukhari said unfortunately ratio of colonies building are increasing in northern parts of the district which are rich in greenery instead plane areas of the Southern region.

Such kind of de-forestation causes numerous problems like spreading pollution, increasing temperature that followed to crop up increased health issue. However, he said that they can’t restrict builders to initiate their schemes after following entire rules mentioned above to carry out the project. Moreover, he said it affects the very drive of Clean and Green Pakistan initiated at national level.

As for as people’s investment in illegal settlements is concerned, DTP maintained that there’s as such no mechanism evolved to refrain an individual from buying property into the disputed settlement. It comes to responsibility of respective buyer to ensure legal status of the commercial entity before heading for investment, he said.

According to sources, the concern departments have failed to take legal action against such illegal construction activities. This negligence leads to a number of illegally constructed buildings and structures in the city. These buildings are constructed without payment in regards to the commercialization fees and building plans fees.

When asked about how many prominent figures being investigated for illegal construction, Haider Abbas Watto said, for the time being a high profile investigation was completed. He said the enquiry against illegal approval of Zenith Plaza at Chowk Nawan Sher has been completed with a recovery of Rs.13 million.

Replying another query, the top official said they had forwarded a proposal to Punjab government to constitute high- level enquiry commission to settle such cases through special power since it is very difficult for the ACE authority to investigate every matter regarding illegal installations.

According to him, the proposal was further moved from provincial to federal authority and finally a three-member Enquiry Commission led by former CJ of Supreme Court Justice (Rtd) Azmat Saeed is constituted via an ordinance.

He said it would start formal working in a week next. He said the commission is empowered to sort out high profile cases in days after collecting desired commercial charges by following building’s rules and regulations.