ISLAMABAD: Residents of Sector E-11, home to a number of high-rise residential buildings, were particularly panicky after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that jolted the city on Monday.
Following the quake, Rangers got a high-rise plaza in E-11/2 vacated after its basement slightly slipped from its position due to the powerful jolts.
The sector houses over 70 towers, some as high as 13 floors. Interestingly, none of the owners of these buildings got their building plans approved by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
After the earthquake, dozens of residents also staged a demonstration to protest against the CDA’s failure to check illegal and unapproved constructions.
Cracks appeared two buildings in E-11 — Executive Plaza and MCS Towers — after Monday’s earthquake.
“Residents have not only approached the city administration, the CDA, police, but also local MPs over the rising trend of construction of apartment buildings on relatively small sized plots, and without obtaining mandatory approvals from the CDA,” said Tariq Hafeez Malik, a resident.
Malik said the CDA’s response was pathetic towards the situation and tantamount to posing a grave threat to lives and properties of the residents.
Another resident said that they had also moved court against encroachments, diversion of seasonal nullahs and construction of abnormally high towers over encroached land. “It seems the CDA byelaws do not apply here,” he said.
City’s Master Plan identifies E-11 as a residential sector. Though located in Zone-I of the capital, building bylaws meant for Zone-II are currently applicable here.
Affected residents of sectors E-11, E-12, F-11 and F-12 were given large chunks of land in Sector E-11 against their properties acquired by the CDA while developing Islamabad. The residents later sold their properties to private housing societies. After the housing societies made purchases in bulk in this area, they managed to obtain a decision in their favour and rules for Zone-II were made applicable here, entitling private developers to develop land.
In 2002, construction of high rise buildings was allowed in the sector and housing societies such as Multi Professional Cooperative Housing Society, Pakistan Medical Co-operative Housing Society, Services Society, and National Police Foundation started converting their limited commercial areas into high rise residential and commercial towers.
“Some of these multi-storey buildings are even constructed at four kanal land,” said a senior CDA official. To a question, he said quality of construction of these plazas was substandard.
“The CDA never approved building byelaws for these high-rise buildings. Their designs are usually vetted by their own engineers,” he added.
Recently on a petition filed by a resident, the court of Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court restrained SNGPL and IESCO from issuing meters to some five under construction plazas in E-11, as owners started construction of these buildings without obtaining NOC from the CDA.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2015.