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Nominal fines collected from nonconforming houses

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has only collected Rs26 million in fines, even though it has sealed 375 properties and should have received approximately Rs188 million, in its ongoing campaign against nonconforming use of residential properties.

CDA deputy commissioner Qazi Ahmed Sohaib said: “Generally, the building control section seals a house when it has established that the house is being used for nonconforming purposes. In this scenario, the violators are liable to pay a fine of Rs500,000 with plenty more in case the amount is not deposited on time.”

However, the process of the collection of fines is stopped when violators file an appeal at a higher forum, he explained.

Some CDA officials have also claimed that fines were waived for influential violators, which has been denied by the director of the building control section, adding it was not necessary that all violators got their house de-sealed.
CDA officials claim building control section waived fines for powerful people

In its documents, the CDA has stated that the authority collected Rs269 million in fines, which is many times higher than the actual rate of fines. CDA Building Control Director Shafi Marwat told Dawn the figure was a mistake, and the authority has actually collected Rs26 million.

Sources said officials from the building control section are deliberately keeping people in the dark about the nonconforming use policy. So far, of the total 1,695 cases of nonconforming property use, the CDA has sealed 375 properties while 730 violators voluntarily brought their properties into conforming use.

The CDA, which began its campaign last year, slowed down the drive during the last three months when it began its operation against guest houses. According to sources, there are around 220 guest houses in residential areas, of which over 90 are still operating.

Some CDA officials have accused the building control section of having close links with guest houses and taking partial action against them when the date of a Supreme Court hearing in the case regarding nonconforming property use approaches.

CDA officials said several guest houses in F-6 and F-7 sealed by the CDA, after being unsealed are operational once more. They said the CDA is deliberately not moving against other guest houses, giving them time to move cases against the authority in the SC.

“I do agree that there is no stay order in favour of the guest houses, but we are facing some resistance from their owners. That does not mean we are not taking action against them – the other day we sealed some guest houses,” Mr Marwat said. He added that he would look into cases of unsealed guest houses that have begun operating again.

Guesthouse Association President Haroon Abbasi told Dawn around 81 guest houses gone to the SC to restrain the CDA from taking action against them.

“Our case is in the SC, so the CDA has no right to seal our guest houses,” he said, adding that if the CDA wants to close down guest houses it should devise a policy to allot plots for bed and breakfasts, since guest houses operate in residential areas all over the world. He said when the matter was in the Supreme Court the CDA continued harassing guesthouse owners and recently the counsel for the guesthouse owners served the authority with a legal notice.

courtesy : dawn news



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