LAHORE - It would be an overnight change in Lahore, a city of 11.13 million people, if Supreme Court’s orders on ban on commercialisation in the metropolis are implemented.

A two-member bench consisting of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan on Sunday banned commercialisation of all sorts of properties in the city and sought detailed reports from the Lahore Development Authority and the Environment Protection Agency.

People with diverse backgrounds have been looking for setting up businesses even in private areas and here is the red line, which authorities like LDA and EPA have to intervene and stop the businesses from flourishing in these areas.

According to media reports, the two-member bench was hearing a suo motu notice involving missing facilities and overcharging at private hospitals.

This order is not new as previous governments have been trying to implement this ambitious task in the city. It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab government’s standing committee at a meeting last year had directed the LDA to increase, revise and amend commercialisation charges so that people should stop commercialisation in the city.

It was recommended to amend rule 28 and 31 in LDA Land Use 2014. Rule 31 deals with temporary commercialisation while Rule 28 deals with conversion, commercialisation and permissibility fee.

According to Rule 31, LDA may allow temporary commercialisation of land or property in the areas for a period up to ten years. LDA may allow temporary commercialization on an annual basis. It will be allowed after site visit and NOC from neighbours. Is has also been written in the Land Rules minimum width of a road allowable for temporary commercial property shall be twenty feet.

The violation of this rule of LDA can be seen in various areas in the city. It is also in the LDA rules that “no structural changes shall be allowed in the buildings after grant of temporary or annual commercialization and in case of any alteration in the structure or permitted use, the permission shall be cancelled and the fee deposited for commercialization shall stand forfeited”.

Rule 28 stated that conversion of land use, by preparation, amendment in the master plan, by declaration of peri-urban area under the LDA Master Plan Rules 2014 and by reclassification under LDA Land Use Rules 2009, Punjab Land Use shall not entitle any person to use the land of such notified, converted, reclassified use unless the conversion fee is paid in a manner.

In 2011, LDA announced the then new commercialization policy which gave permission to businessmen to flourish their businesses on city’s 58 approved roads. This removed much of the barriers, which were earlier hurdles to setting up businesses in commercial areas.

In 2014, LDA gave permission to businessmen to apply for annual commercialisation of properties, which needed No Objection Certificates from adjoining left, right and rear side neighbours.

According to estimates, there are around 8,000 to 10,000 illegal buildings present in the city which had made the lives of people miserable and chocked the traffic on these roads. One can easily observe that residential areas are being used as commercial ones and it is difficult to assess how much Lahore’s land is being commercialized in private areas.

According to LDA sources there are around 40 roads, which are declared commercial. Other than this, the LDA introduced a policy for granting annual commercialisation to facilitate people who wanted to set up their businesses but the policy bounced back and there have been a lot of pressure and stress around temporary commercialized infrastructures on frozen roads.

“Rules and regulations are for people and by the nature and demand of the contemporary issues it can be changed and it would be no surprise, if annual commercialisation policy is reviewed in near future,” a source said.