Lessons learnt from Kharak dust: Building control authority suggested at division level

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Official logo of Lahore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LAHORE, March 30: A Punjab government’s committee tasked with reforming building laws recommends the setting up a ‘building control authority (BCA)’ at divisional level in the province on the pattern of Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).

The committee was made after the collapse of a pharmaceutical factory in Kharak in February.
Committee convener Khizer Hayat Gondal, Local Government and Human Resource Department secretary, told Dawn on Friday the body had presented its report to the chief minister recommending BCAs initially in divisions. The divisional BCAs will have representations of city district governments.

The committee made by Chief Secretary Nasir Mahmood Khosa was to examine provisions of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance (PLGO)-2001 regarding building control and recommend reforms in building control and amend the building rules (if required).

The committee observed the PLGO-2011 provided building control a function of the Zila (District) Council in a city as well of tehsil and town municipal administrations (TMAs), reads the report.

The committee also examined relevant sections of the Lahore Development Authority Act-1975, Punjab Development Cities Act-1976 and the Punjab Housing and Town Planning Agency Ordiance-2002 as dealing with the building control function,” the report says.

The report said the provisions in laws were fragmented amongst various departments/agencies, resulting in jurisdictional overlaps, wide variations in standards and lack of enforcement mechanism.

“Regarding impact of the envisaged BCA on the financial viability and health of the development authorities and TMAs, the committee analyzed the revenue generated in the building control function by these entities. The committee was of the opinion that in case of assigning this function to a BCA, the revenue collected from the building control would not have any serious implications for development authorities and TMAs, However, a mutually agreed revenue sharing formula can be worked out to compensate them for losing revenue,” the report reads.

The committee studied the functioning of the SBCA, formerly Karachi Building Control Authority that was created in 1979. The SCBA is a provincial level authority headed by a director general and has five regional directorate established in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, Sukkar and Larkana.

The committee, however, recommended BCAs in divisions headed by commissioners which may establish such authorities in district and tehsil/town level by delegating the relevant building control powers to the officials.

The report suggested that the functions of spatial planning and land use control be kept separate from building control authorities. The government may create a post of executive district officers-spatial planning in districts.

“There should be an effective coordination between the agencies for building control and spatial planning/land use control for efficient disposal of building related applications that should be coalesce at the level of BCA. And for an effective enforcement of building control functions, an independent police station be created within the jurisdiction of each authority with out-posts in tandem with dedicated courts for speedy trials,” the report recommends.

The report also set functions and powers of BCA including sanction or rejection of building plans/drawings, preparation and amendment of building regulations within the provincial framework, enforcement of master plan, zoning and building regulations and the removal of encroachments and illegal constructions.

The committee consisted of the housing secretary, district coordination officers of Lahore and Faisalabad, director generals of Lahore and Faisalabad development authorities, project director of the Lahore Urban Unit, EDOs-municipal services of Lahore and Gujranawala, architect Nayyar Ali Dada, town planner Aslam Mughal and head of the City and Regional Planning Department of University of Engineering and Technology Lahore.

Mr Gondal said he hoped the report was comprehensive and the chief minister would approve it for effective building control in Punjab.

Source: http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/31/lessons-learnt-from-kharak-dust-building-control-authority-suggested-at-division-level.html