LAHORE - A private builder has put hundreds of lives at risk by constructing a multi-storey building in a densely populated area; all under the nose of city administrators.

Not only Basharat Umar violated the building bylaws by constructing a commercial plaza on residential plot at Punj Mahal Road, behind Sir Ganga Ram Hostel, he intends to make it a hostel which could accommodate 300 girls. The structure has already attained 50 feet height and the builder wants to add at least two more floors, putting the neighbours at great risk.

Municipal authorities say the builder had got approval of plan for residential building instead. “The builder has neither got the plan approved for commercial building nor paid commercialization fee. He continued violating bylaws after greasing the palms of relevant officers,” the officials in TMA told The Nation yesterday.

“Within last couple of months, this man has constructed a huge structure right in the middle of city, in connivance with the otherwise vigilant officers,” said Sultan Lodhi, who lives right next to the under construction building. “No one has taken notice of the blatant violation of bylaws and poor construction that could lead to building collapse.

“Not only the students (the builder intends to accommodate), but also the lives of nearby residents are at great risk especially in case of earthquake. I am astonished to see that there are no pillars on the second and third floors,” added Mr Lodhi. He also maintained that even commercial building could not be constructed above 38 feet height in the area. But the building has so far attained 50 feet height and the builder wanted to add more floors.

“It is really astonishing that how construction of big commercial building has been allowed without No Objection Certificate from the neighbours,” he told The Nation.

This is not the only case of influential builders violating bylaws in the city, as there are several other buildings constructed on residential plots yet being used for commercial purpose. Such builders, in most of the cases, manage to keep the nearby residents silent through one mean or the other. The builders silence the complainants by threats, and continue to construct the buildings with the support of authorities concerned.

Data Gunj Bukhsh Town TMO Iqbal Farid said that he has already directed the relevant officers to stop construction work and demolish the existing structure. “I have directed the Town Officer Regulations and TO Planning and Coordination to stop the construction work. The existing structure will be demolished as it is constructed in violation of approved plan and building bylaws,” Mr Farid told The Nation.