After partial demolition, another Karachi protected building is in danger


KARACHI: ‘Builder mafia’ demolished another British-era building on Pakistan Chowk from the inside on Saturday, continuing the criminal demolition of heritage structures.

The Sindh archaeology department has sealed the heritage building, but its façade remains uncertain.

Social media initially revealed the illegal demolition and debris removal from pre-partition Kanji Building at Bellasis Street, Narain Road near Pakistan Chowk. The archaeology department shut the building after learning of illegal demolition.

Officials claimed the property was protected under the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994.

Dawn said that just the façade of the British-era edifice with 19th-century European architecture was intact.

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The building was abandoned by residents five years ago and partially demolished.

Archaeology Department Deputy Director Pirah Mangi told Dawn that the structure was sealed on June 27 and the owner was notified for illegally dismantling it and collecting trash.

She said the building was sealed while the owner removed debris and was requested to submit conservation plans to a technical committee.

The archaeology department employee claimed the sealing order was on the Kanji Building’s façade.

The sealing order cautioned that violators would be prosecuted under Section 18 of the Sindh Heritage (Prevention) Act.

Culture Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah said that architectural heritage in the city had been at risk for years due to heritage law loopholes and staff shortages.

He said the department was working hard to preserve the city’s cultural history and taking swift action to stop unauthorised demolition or construction of protected buildings.

3,500 Sindh protected buildings

Officials reported 3,500 protected buildings and sites across the province, including 1,750 in Karachi.

Only 10 personnel in Karachi and as many in inland Sindh were assigned to monitor unauthorised demolition and unlawful development, usually by important owners and builders.

The heritage department has no inspectors to check illicit destruction or development at protected sites.

The Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) monitors protected structures and heritage sites for demolition or construction.

The SBCA, which had staff in every part of Karachi and Sindh to monitor demolition and construction, had to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) before demolishing or building any building, including protected ones.

The archaeological department reported that most protected buildings were in Saddar, Civil Lines, and Cantonment Board Karachi jurisdiction, where plots are very valuable and buildings and structures may be created after razing the protected buildings.

 





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