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What became of the inquiry into by-law violations by Safa Gold Mall?

What became of the inquiry into by-law violations by Safa Gold Mall?

ISLAMABAD: For a year now, the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) de-novo inquiry into the construction of three illegal storeys in the Safa Gold Mall has been “under process”.

After a delay of years, an inquiry was conducted last year into the construction of the Safa Gold Mall which pointed to building by-law violations. The inquiry concluded that three of the mall’s storeys were illegal and recommended action against some of the CDA’s officials.

However, instead of implementing the recommendations of that inquiry, the city’s managers ordered a fresh, or de-novo, inquiry into the matter, saying that there were chances that other officials may also be involved in the scam.

A second inquiry was ordered last year after the first suggested razing three floors of the mall, action against CDA officials

The fresh inquiry is yet to reach a conclusion a year on.

“The de-novo inquiry is under process. I have directed the inquiry officer to complete it as soon as possible,” acting CDA chairman Sheikh Anser Aziz told Dawn. Inquiry officer Khushal Khan said the inquiry is in the final stages.

The report of the first inquiry, which was conducted by former member engineer Shahid Sohail had pointed to irregularities in the mall and recommended the removal of three of its storeys which were built in violation of the bylaws.

The inquiry had also found two officials responsible for facilitating the violations including former building control deputy director Malik Murtaza who retired recently and deputy director Ammar Idrees. The other officials nominated in the preliminary inquiry were cleared.

The mall owner was allowed to build a ground floor and seven more storeys instead of the agreed on ground plus four floors.

The Safa Gold Mall management and the CDA later approached the Islamabad High Court and the CDA proposed a Rs2 billion fine on the owner. The matter is still pending in court.

“The court told us to figure out a way as well. We will put the matter in front of our board. We could charge the owner of the mall for the three illegal storeys and impose 25pc extra charges,” said Member Planning Asad Mehboob Kayani.

He said that if the board approved, the owner could be asked to submit the dues within 30 days, failing which the CDA may cancel the plot, which was auctioned in 2010.

In the 74-page inquiry report, Shahid Sohail has said CDA officials gave undue favours to the owner of the plot.

“In the allotment letter, it was clearly defined that the floor area ratio of the building would be 1:5 with 100pc coverage and number of storeys would be ground-plus four thus capping the height of the building. In no case, the number of storeys could be enhanced in violation of the relevant planning parameters and clauses of the allotment letter,” the report says.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2017

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