The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Sindh Building Control Authority, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, cantonment boards and others on petitions calling for the court to review its order barring construction of high-rises in the city till new water supply sources were added to the existing system.
Private builders and developers filed an application to have the apex court review its March 16 order and judicial commission’s observations that called for a complete ban on high-rise buildings in the city till water shortage is overcome and new resources of water are added.
Petitioners’ counsel Munir A Malik, Abid Zuberi and Farogh Naseem submitted that the court’s direction and the commission’s recommendations were affecting the petitioners’ business, whereas people who had paid for bookings were facing difficulties in acquiring the possession of the living spaces.
They submitted that according to Section 25-14.7, read with Section 32.15.3 of the Karachi building and town planning regulation, builders and developers are required to make arrangements for water, electricity and sewage facilities before the building plan is approved.
The counsels maintained that the allottees as well as residents will be provided the facilities through alternate sources. They requested that those multi-storey projects which have their own resources of water supply and sanitation maintenance be allowed to be completed.
The court observed that the city is facing a shortage of water including sub-soil water, and inquired of the counsels whether builders and developers had enough sub-soil water in their alternate mechanism to meet water requirements of the allottees.
The court asked the counsel to share the alternate mechanism through which the builders and developers are planning on providing water and sewage system to the allotees of the high-rises.
The court observed that a city’s growth cannot be extended beyond its resources and that town planning needs to be done keeping in view the available water resources. SC’s three member bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam observed that the court is concerned about the builders’ rights as well as of the public.
During the hearing, Sindh Advocate General Zamir Ghumro submitted details of the North Sindh Urban Services Corporation – a company financed by the Asian Development Bank for supplying water and managing waste of Sindh’s eight cities- and said that the NSUSC’s eight schemes worth Rs3 billion are pending in different districts. The court after taking the report on record adjourned the matter till next session.
Water hydrants case
The counsel representing water hydrant owners informed the court that KWSB was taking action against legal hydrants under the garb of closing down illegal hydrants.
During the hearing of applications against operation of illegal hydrants and water shortage in the city, the counsel of hydrants’ owners submitted that they have no legal remedy available to challenge the breach of contract by the KWSB as high court was not entertaining their cases since the matter is subjudice in the Supreme Court.
He submitted that legal hydrant owners may be allowed to present their case before the Sindh High Court in case of a breach of contract, till the court reaches a final conclusion regarding the matter.
The court adjourned the hearing of the case due to shortage of time and observed that the matter will be taken up in the next session.
Khurshid, Jamal. Civic bodies put on notice over plea for review of SC order. The News, August 30, 2017.