LAHORE - Monsoon has set in and lives of hundreds of people are at risk since they have no option but to live in dilapidated houses – declared dangerous by authorities.

The Punjab Local Government Act 2013 provides no coherent policy to compensate people living in such buildings.

Sources in the City District Government said that the challenge to demolish the dilapidated buildings and houses is that families residing in these are from poor and lower middle class.

“They do not want to leave their houses for two reasons – financial constraints and absence of government plan for alternative residence.”

Lahore District Coordination Officer Muhammad Usman said the administration is fully aware of the looming danger.

“A Punjab level committee is reviewing the situation. We have made three categories of dilapidated buildings – those in need of repair, those that must be got vacated and those that need to be demolished,” he said.

EDO Municipal Services Sardar Naseer said that 200 building were identified out of which 80 have been demolished. Out of 200 buildings identified for repair 159 have been repaired. “If the government sees people living in dilapidated buildings who are not economically strong to uplift their house then we help them. Otherwise there is no mechanism set in Punjab Local Government Act 2013 to provide alternative residence. At the most we provide them tent for living during the rainy season,” he said. 

Municipal Administrator Gulberg Town, Faisal Shehzad, said 18 buildings have been identified under dilapidated conditions. ”One building at Allama Iqbal Road has been demolished and other one at Garhi Shahu building will be demolished in two days. Remaining 16 building are being repaired,” he said.

Officer Planning and Coordination Samanabad Town, Rao Imtiaz, said 34 most dangerous buildings have been identified and are being demolished. “40 percent identified building have been repaired under the Local Government Act 2013,” he said.    

On the other hand Walled City Lahore Authority has identified 120 buildings out of which notices to 44 buildings owners have been sent to repair them. The WCLA identified 76 buildings are identified as extremely dangerous. The owners have been sent notices to demolish these buildings.

WCLA spokeswoman told The Nation that the authority has asked the residents of the walled city to vacate the dilapidated buildings and houses and for this banners have been put up almost everywhere in the walled city area to create awareness and tell people about the danger they could be facing.

“The authority is very much serious about the lives and security of the residents of walled city and zero tolerance policy will apply on all illegal constructions and basements of houses,” she said.

“The WCLA received Rs 20 million for the conservation of dilapidated buildings for this monsoon season and for the next monsoon season we are asking for bigger budget to execute the operation against illegal constructions and to conserve the buildings,” she said.   

WCLA Director Conservation Najamul Saqib said that so far we have demolished 16 buildings in walled city areas and following the SOPs we have sent notices to the owners. “At Lahore division level a committee under the chairmanship of Kh Ahmed Hassan in which Punjab Disaster Management Authority and other concerned departments and WCLA Assistant director buildings also presents inputs on dangerous buildings of walled city,” he explained.