RAWALPINDI: Noting an increase in unauthorised buildings, the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) has sought help of the station commander to delegate it powers so that it could raze illegal construction without approval from the board.
The civic agency also asked the city police officer for the deployment of a sub-inspector and five constables in its building branch. The formal request was sent through the RCB’s parent department of Military Lands and Cantonments.
A senior official of the RCB told Dawn that Cantonment Executive Officer Sibtain Raza had taken notice of the illegal construction and suspended three building inspectors early this month.
He said an inquiry had been launched against the three building inspectors and a report would be finalised soon. He said these officials were suspended for failing to stop illegal construction in their respective areas.
“The board, comprising elected members of RCB, patronised illegal construction and the civic body had to impose fines after completion of the structures as the building branch cannot demolish any illegal building without approval from the board,” he said.
However, he added that the board’s meeting was held once a month and in the meantime people made changes to their buildings without taking approval.
“The building branch has the authority to issue notices. After construction, it can only impose a fine on the owner but cannot demolish the illegal construction,” he said.
The official said in all other 47 cantonment across the country, illegal constructions were brought down on the directives of the cantonment executive officer concerned. However, in Rawalpindi the power to raze an illegal building rests with the board, he said.
In the last five years, many commercial buildings were constructed in the cantonment areas without approval of the civic body and after checking the violation the RCB building branch just had to impose fines on their owners and declare the structures legal.
Apart from this, he said, the RCB wanted support of the police in the building branch to take action against illegal construction. Five constables and a sub-inspector will work under a magistrate.
He said due to the absence of police force, the enforcement cell failed to remove encroachments.
“Though officials remove encroachments, they fail to cope with resentment from encroachers in bazaars and residential areas,” he said.
When contacted, Cantonment Executive Officer Sibtain Raza said the civic body had started reorganising its building and land branch to control unauthorised buildings.
He said the RCB wanted to streamline things and implement its building bylaws to improve condition of the residential and commercial areas. He said new building bylaws had been formed so that the citizens could get better civic facilities.
He said in many commercial buildings traders had increased the number of shops without allocating space for parking. As a result, citizens have to park their vehicles on roads and create traffic mess.
Similarly, he added, in residential areas people constructed extra floors illegally which put an extra burden on the sewerage system and water supply.