KARACHI - Sindh Minister for Information, Local Government, Housing &Town Planning, Religious Affairs, Forest and Wildlife Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has said that there were more than 300 buildings in Karachi which were not only old but in a very dilapidated condition.

The Provincial Information Minister said that notices had also been issued to the occupants of these buildings to vacate them immediately but they had refused.

He said talks were underway with the occupants of the old buildings and that they would vacate the old buildings, relying on the government to provide them with alternative accommodation. He was speaking to reporters while visiting the site in Lyari where a 5-storey residential building collapsed, killing four people and injuring many. Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that legislation was also being enacted to assure the occupants of such buildings that if they were vacated, alternative accommodation would be provided to them.

The provincial Information Minister said that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had already issued clear instructions in this regard.

He said that heavy machinery had been delivered to the affected area, with the help of which the work of lifting debris was in progress, but as the area consisted of very narrow streets, it might take some time to remove the debris.

Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that if there was any negligence on the part of Sindh Building Control Authority officials behind this tragic incident, it would not be tolerated. The provincial Information Minister clarified that in order to stop the illegal practices, the Sindh government had already approved separate courts for Sindh Building Control Authority and apex court had also been approached for appointments in these courts.

He said that strict action had been taken against hundreds of Sindh Building Control Authority officials in the past for allowing illegal construction of buildings, adding, that, various steps had also been taken to curb such illegal and dangerous practices in future.

Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that black sheep were part of every institution, but the government of Sindh especially the Sindh Local Government Department was striving to expell these black sheep from the Sindh Building Control Authority once and forever.

The provincial Information Minister said that the Sindh Building Control Authority officers had already been informed that any officer7 in whose area illegal construction would take place would be held responsible.

He said that action against illegal constructions in Karachi was in full swing and many of these illegal constructions had been demolished.

Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that thorough investigation would be carried out into the incident of building collapse in Lyari and if anyone from Sindh Building Control Authority was found to be involved in it, strict legal action would be taken against him.

He also requested the people that if the Sindh Building Control Authority identified an old and dilapidated building and issued a notice to vacate it then they should immediately vacate that building, adding that, the only purpose of these notices of SBCA was to protect the precious lives.

Meanwhile, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, while commenting about the US blogger Cynthia Richie, said that such people were launched to issue baseless statements and allegationd in order to divert the attention of the people. The provincial Information Minister said that by making such moves, the people were entangled in unnecessary matters. “This is the time when we should talk about taking action against those involved in the sugar scandal and focus on measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country by avoiding talking about unnecessary matters,” he said.

Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that the Sindh government was always associated with the Omni group and few people kept on saying that the Sindh government had given the most of the subsidy on sugar to this particular group while the reality was the totally different. The provincial Information Minister said that the fact of the matter was the Sindh government had given only 15 per cent of the total subsidy on suga to the Omni group.

He said that 85 per cent of the sugar subsidy was given to the sugar mills of other groups, including Jahangir that of Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtiar.

The provincial Minister said that whenever the Sindh government subsidized sugar, it was aimed at benefiting the farmers. Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that due to the incompetence of the federal government and their failure to take timely decision, today the coronavirus is completely out of control. The provincial Information Minister said the spread of the coronavirus could have been stopped but the federal government did not take it seriously.

He said that when the Sindh government talked of lockdown, it was termed as elite’s lockdown, although this was the only solution to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The provincial Minister said that such mixed messages were given that the lockdown became completely ineffective. Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that now we have to live for an indefinite period with the coronavirus.

The provincial Information Minister further said that the Sindh chief minister has ordered an inquiry into the issue of fake domiciles and action would be taken soon in this regard.