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Ban commercial activities in residential areas
11-26-2013, 12:58 PM
Post: #1
Ban commercial activities in residential areas
ISLAMABAD, Nov 25: Local traders on Monday called upon the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to ban all commercial activities in residential areas as these were affecting the businessmen in commercial areas.

“This is not fair. Such activities are not only a blatant violation of CDA’s master plan but also create a hassle for local residents,” Ikhlaq Abbasi, the president of Traders’ Welfare Association G-9 Markaz said.

He was addressing a meeting with office bearers of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).

The members of the business community said residential areas were being used for various commercial activities such as guesthouses, schools, beauty parlours, clinics, gyms, furniture shops and even car showrooms.

“If this trend is not stopped immediately, all residential houses will gradually turn into commercial ones. This is total violation of CDA’s master plan and will also distort the beauty of Islamabad,” Ikhlaq Abbasi said.

The issue has been highlighted several times at various forums, but traders alleged that the nonconforming use of residential areas was being done in connivance with CDA staff which received bribes in return.

The Building Control Section (BCS) of the civic authority has estimated that more than 1,500 businesses are being operated in houses in the federal capital. The majority of these are situated in F-7 and F-6 sectors.

Some disgruntled residents even approached the court over the matter, and in September, the Islamabad High Court directed the CDA to explain why the authority had failed to take action against violators.

The court observed that in all sectors of Islamabad, residential premises were being used for commercial activities such as private hospitals and business centres.

Commenting on the issue, CDA spokesman Asim Khichi said the enforcement department of the civic body was trying to streamline the matter.

He said notices had been issued to people for using residential areas for commercial activities, but most of them had obtained a stay order from the court.

“This has become a routine matter now. The BCS acts and a file in this regard is sent to the enforcement department. However, when the department officials go to the site, they are greeted with a stay order,” Mr Khichi maintained.

On the other hand, entrepreneurs using residential sectors for their businesses have their own side of the story. They maintain that there is a severe shortage of space in Islamabad, and they were forced to start businesses in residential areas.

“The civic agency should first place its own house in order,” said Tayyab Shah, a lawyer who has represented businessmen in residential areas and obtained stay orders for them.

“Why is the CDA allowing the establishment of embassies, diplomatic missions, medical clinics, schools, lawyers’ chambers and NGOs in houses? The law should be equal for all,” Mr Shad added.

An official of the CDA maintained that this was a never ending debate as businessmen in commercial areas would ultimately raise objections against public offices in residential areas too.

“In reality, streamlining government offices and diplomatic missions in the city is beyond CDA’s scope. Even if we try anything like that, the government will restrict us.”
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