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Repair work at D.J. Science College violates heritage act

KARACHI, Oct 19: Illegal construction work is going on at the D.J. Science College, which is a protected site under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Protection Act. According to sources, at least two Sindh government departments have directed the college management to stop the illegal work, yet the work continues.

The sources said that nobody including the owner could carry out any repairs or restoration work in a building protected under the act, which prescribes long prison terms and heavy fines for violators.

The sources said that a permission/NOC is to be obtained from the advisory committee on cultural affairs, which is headed by the provincial chief secretary, before carrying out any work at a protected site.

The sources said that if anybody wanted to carry out construction work in any building of the city, permission from the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) was necessary. The D.J. Science College does not have any of these abovementioned mandatory permissions/NOCs.

The sources said that besides the repairs/restoration work, the college authorities wanted to construct some new structures, including bathrooms, at the protected site, besides constructing a mezzanine floor in some of the halls, which have a high roof.

Clear violation

The KBCA, in a letter written to the D.J. Science College principal dated Oct 11, 2007 with the subject: "Addition/alteration work without mandatory approval required under Regulation No 15 3.1 KBTPR 2002 in notified heritage building," says:

"With reference to (the) above, it is observed that addition and alteration civil work is found under progress without obtaining (the) mandatory permission of (the) advisory committee for Sindh cultural heritage and subsequent approval of this authority, which is in violation of Clause 15 3.1 of (the) Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations 2002.

"You are hereby advised to stop all addition, alteration and construction work forthwith till (the) grant of permission by the authority (concerned)," the directive adds.

Responding to queries, the KBCA's Building Controller concerned, Agha Maqsood Abbas, said that when the KBCA team visited the college, work was going on and the management had neither obtained any permission from the advisory committee on cultural affairs nor had it obtained permission from the KBCA. So, the management has been directed to stop the illegal construction work at the protected site.

The sources said that the Sindh culture department has also written to the college management asking it not to carry out any construction work without getting permission from the advisory committee.

Responding to questions, Sindh Culture Secretary Shams Jafrani said that some time back the college management had approached the advisory committee for permission to carry out construction and the committee had referred the matter to an expert, who had reviewed the plans and had submitted some objections on the construction of bathrooms along with some suggestions.

The college was directed to get its plans redesigned accordingly and again submit them to the committee which, after reviewing them, would take a decision about granting permission.

The college never submitted the new designs and the matter, as far as the culture department is concerned, stays at that point; that is, no permission has been given and whatever work is being carried out at the protected building is illegal and should be stopped. The department has issued a letter to this effect to the college, he added.

He said that the college, while making efforts to raise funds, had also approached some other government organizations, which on their part had also advised the college management to first seek permission from the advisory committee and afterwards make efforts to generate funds.

The pot calling the kettle black

Interestingly, sources said that sometime back, when similar illegal work without getting the mandatory NOC/permission from the advisory committee and KBCA was being carried out at the NJV School by the Sindh government, it was D.J. Science College officials who had raised a hue and cry about it. However, now the D.J. Science College is doing the exact same thing.

Sources said that government departments, having little regard for the law, usually never bothered to take mandatory permissions from either the advisory committee or the KBCA and both of these government organizations also did not bother to take notice until the issue was raised by the media. Dawn

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