KARACHI - Demolition of Nasla Tower in Karachi has remained a hot topic among segments of society including business community to political and religious groups after the apex court directed the provincial authorities to demolish it immediately over irregularities in its construction.
Years after people bought flats worth millions in the multi-story building, the apex court bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed found that some part of the residential building was being constructed on a services lane and the builder allegedly obtained NOCs through fake documentation. The decision was a bombshell for the residents who bought the flats in the housing complex with their hard-earned money and had to ultimately evacuate the building after successive attempts from the builder to appeal against the court’s decision were turned down. The business community and some political groups have also opposed the demolition of the residential tower at the main artery of the city, Shahra-e-Faisal, with each having a separate reason.
The business community- including ABAD and FPCCI- is opposing the demolition while citing that as to why a building having all NOCs has to be demolished while affectees and most of the political groups have demanded the apex court to postpone the demolition before compensation is provided to the affectees. While addressing a press conference on Saturday, Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) Chairman Mohsin Shaikhani said that 17 agencies awarded NOC to a high-rise building before its construction in five years, however, the same building was being struck down in a go after irregularities. “Nobody is ready to safeguard the interests of the business community in Karachi,” he said and demanded the authorities to legislate on the matter and establish and identify a government body from where NOCs could be obtained to avoid any irregularity. “Is this the way to lure investors,” he said adding that no one would invest in the city’s infrastructure in the ongoing scenario as even after obtaining all NOCs, their building could be demolished in a go. Shedding light on the association’s demands, the chairman stated that ABAD wanted the government to develop a one-window facility for the process of granting permissions. He decried the “parallel” legal systems operating in the country. “No country should have two sets of laws.” Speaking of the Nasla Tower demolition, he said demolition orders were given five years after the construction of the building.
He questioned how people would invest after this. He demanded of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa to intervene into the matter and also asked the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to implement his promises on regularising such structures. He announced that the ABAD was halting work on its projects nationwide in protest against the demolitions in Karachi.
Meanwhile, political parties including MQM-P, Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who are among the major political stakeholders in Karachi, have also opposed the demolition of Nasla Tower, demanding that the affectees should be compensated and officials involved be punished before executing the demolition. JI Karachi Chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman has emerged as one of the most vocal voice on the issue as two days back he reached the Nasla Tower and forced the demolition process on the directives apex court to shut down.
The next day, he also appeared before the apex court and reiterated the demand to compensate the victims first before the execution of the demolition plan. He was however admonished by the court for politicising the matter. Moreover, provincial Minister Saeed Ghani had also spoken on the floor of the assembly against the demolition saying that he was even ready to loose his ministry and provincial seat but would not allow anyone to demolish Nasla Tower. The Sindh government also adopted a resolution in the assembly against the demolition. MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari while addressing ABAD press conference on Saturday said that in the case of Nasla Tower, the property was bought and sold through banks after the NOC was considered. “If the Sindh government wanted, it could have regularised Nasla Tower in one fell swoop,” he said, suggesting that the government “intervene and not allow utility connections to be cut anywhere.” Sabzwari appealed for justice from the Supreme Court. He said that encroachments in Orangi Town and Gujjar Nalla were illegal, however, the responsibility of providing shelter lies with the state. “How will anybody trust the NOC from onwards? the MQM leader questioned.
Saylani Welfare Trust Chairman Maulana Bashir Farooqi also urged Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to review and take back his orders regarding the demolition of Nasla Tower. We are just appealing that our cries be heard, the CJP should take back its decision,” said Bashir Farooqi.