ISLAMABAD - Seriousness of the Capital Development Authority to curb the use of residential units for commercial purposes is witnessed from the fact that since year 2009, the civic agency had not carried out any survey of residential areas to ascertain the rising scale of this illegal practice.

“The Authority is relying on previous data, it had compiled in the year 2009, following the directions of Senate Standing Committee on Interior. I cannot give you the most recent statistics in this regard,” said an official of the concerned directorate.

“In June 2011, CDA had served notices to some 885 owners for non-conforming use. The notices were served on the basis of year 2009 lists,” he added. 

The CDA virtually seems incapacitated to shun the ongoing practice of non-confirming use of residential units across the Federal Capital resulting unexampled surge in violations.

According to the record compiled by the Building Control Directorate in 2009, 835 houses were being used commercially in residential areas of the Capital. As many as 345 houses out of 835 were being used as offices of international organisations including 91 foreign embassies, 97 as guesthouses, six as restaurants, 259 as schools and 128 for other businesses such as beauty parlours and clinics.

When asked, why had CDA not carried out any survey during the whole year, a top official of the building control directorate said, “It is a continuous offence and the Authority time-to-time serves notices to the violators, however, it is practically impossible to implement the defined penalties under CDA’s 1993 byelaws in this regard.”

Another official said that it was a matter of grave concern that hundreds of cases were laying pending in this regard with the courts of law as violators after receiving notices from CDA managed to get stay orders on one or the other pretext.

He added that the Authority during year 2010 received above 40 applications from the citizens, who pointed out houses in their adjoining localities being used for business purposes.

As per defined policy to cope with the violators, the owner/s of the residential buildings being used for commercial purposes are served with notices.

In case of non-compliance, the cases of the violator/s refer to deputy commissioner, CDA for further necessary action.

The deputy commissioner, CDA, again serves the notice to the owners involve in non-confirming use of the residential areas and such notices are then got published in the print media.

The violators are thereafter imposed heavy fines, and consequently the allotments of the plots are cancelled.

Ghulam Mutaza Malik, Director General Building Control, said that in the wake of growing tendency amongst the citizens regarding the use of residential houses for commercial purposes, the CDA had initiated action against such violators to discourage the practice.

The CDA in near past had managed vacation of such houses falling under the category of non-conforming use. Fines were also imposed besides cancellation of plots, while CDA was also pursuing such cases in courts, Malik added.