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Residents of Karachi’s Nasla Tower left homeless, waiting for compensation

Police obtains list of SBCA officers involved in illegal construction of Nasla Tower

A view of Karachi’s Nasla Tower that was demolished on the Supreme Court’s order. Photo: Athar Khan/BOL News

KARACHI: Over the past few weeks, the issue of Nasla Tower’s demolition has become the talk of the town.

Some believe that the superior judiciary has set an example so that there would be more demolitions of illegal buildings in the future after the 15-storey residential project is razed.

Nasla Tower has 11 residential floors as well as a four-storey parking facility. This includes 44 apartments.

The developer was reportedly suffering financial losses and there remains a possibility that the affectees might not be compensated.

The Supreme Court (SC)’s decision calling for the controlled demolition of the multistorey tower comes on the heels of anti-encroachment operations along Gujjar Nullah and other drains, as well as recovery of the land needed for the Karachi Circular Railway, ordered by the apex court.

Bilal Ibrahim, a resident of Nasla Tower, pointed out that there were more than 19 illegal buildings in the same area. The demolition of the tower will damage the entire sewerage system and make several other buildings dilapidated. This is the basic reason that the apex court might reconsider the issue, he commented.

Ibrahim, despite knowing the grim reality, remained hopeful that the SC would reconsider the decision. Nevertheless, he has evacuated his apartment and shifted all his belongings elsewhere.

“It is hard for me and my family to make this decision to empty the apartment. We are still in contact with the builder of the project and other departments concerned for compensation, in case the building is demolished,” he added.

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, remarked, “Since the apex court has directed the builders and departments concerned to give full compensation to the residents, what should we do [about] the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and other departments concerned who gave permission for the construction of the plaza in the first place?

“Most investors are ordinary citizens who take decisions on the basis of advertisements and just check the NOCs by government departments concerned and bodies like SBCA in Karachi. There must be some mechanism or body that can be relied on by common investors and business persons,” he further said.

The current situation

The vicinity of Nasla Tower comes under Karachi’s District East wherein the notification had been pasted at the front entrance of the tower, requesting the residents to evacuate the plaza. Meanwhile, utility services had been cut off and most of the residents had already shifted elsewhere. Only a few watchmen and stakeholders remain at the site.

The residential tower was built over 1,121 square yards on Plot No 193-A beside Nursery bridge just a few steps away from a nullah. The tower is situated in the Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society area. Alongside the project, there are several other commercial and residential buildings.

A poster put up at the Nasla Tower. Photo: Athar Khan/Bol News

The SC ordered the Karachi commissioner to disconnect utilities of the building and get it vacated by October 27 and after that, the tower was to be demolished within a week using modern demolition technology. The court pointed out that such technology was already in use in neighbouring India for demolition of buildings.

The court further directed the commissioner to recover the cost of demolition from the builder and if the builder did not pay, then attach the land after demolition, auction it and recover the demolition cost.

The residents of other buildings or those who own businesses in other buildings were curious about the demolition plan of the tower, thinking that the next step by the authorities would be to demolish other buildings that had allegedly been constructed on encroached land or were constructed on amenity plots.

A visitor at Nasla Tower, who wished not to be named, observed: “Why did the court not ask those who allowed the construction? Why were the residents of this tower bearing the brunt of such decisions? If it happens to other buildings, this could result in chaos.”

Why only Nasla Tower?

During the hearing of Gujjar Nullah encroachment case, the Karachi commissioner informed the court about Nasla Tower’s illegal construction and stated that the service lane of Shahrah-i-Faisal was blocked due to construction of Nasla Tower. He claimed that the tower had been constructed on encroached land.

During the hearing on September 20, 2021, the SC had dismissed the review petitions of the builder and occupants asking the court to review its June 16, 2021 decision as the apex court observed that the builder had failed to prove its title over the area beyond 780 square yards.

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