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Provincial govts directed to inspect buildings


KARACHI: In a bid to avoid disaster in earthquake and fire etc, Ministry of Housing and Works (MHW) has directed all provincial governments to carry out physical inspections of all buildings in order to check and ensure building code was implemented.
Considering frequent earthquakes and tremors across Pakistan during the last few years, resulted causalities, the Senate Standing Committee on Housing and Works recommended in March 2014 to MHW necessary standards should be followed in building construction to avoid any tragedy in case of any natural catastrophe.
In this regard, MHW in May 2014 directed all provincial governments through a letter stating, “All the provincial governments, development authorities, building control authorities and concerned departments should carry out physical inspections of all buildings in order to check and ensure building code was implemented so as to avoid any likely disaster in incidents like earthquakes/fire etc”.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has not learned from history as building code was not being followed by construction companies while bulling control authorities also have failed to imply the rules allegedly due to taking bribe from the builders, sources said.
Chairman of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry standing committee for urban development Muneer Sultan said, with the presence of autonomous building control authority in Karachi since 1979, seismic codes have been following while the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) has turned out in Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) later, thus the jurisdiction of SBCA has been widened across the Sindh.
He said in Sindh especially in Karachi all important safety code were being strictly followed by builders due to the dedication of SBCA towards avoiding disasters. 
On a query of alleged bribe being taken by SBCA officials for approval of house architecture and residential design, he said unluckily some officials take speed money to accelerate the due procedures but in case also guidelines follow firmly.
Sultan pointing out the absence of building control authorities in other provinces excluding Sindh said there were no effective authorities in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa despite the provinces were at sheer risk of earthquakes and floods. 
He said no building code was being followed in these provinces even there was no building ordinance yet issued by any provincial government.
Reportedly, since February 2004 to April 2013 there were 38 major earthquakes and tremors struck different parts of Pakistan and as a consequence, almost 80,446 people lost lives, 200,358 people got injured and more than 2 million houses and buildings were destroyed, partially or completely.
The code specifically provides about the codified procedures and guidelines for planning, design, analysis and detailing of building structures, including general structural design requirements of reinforced concrete buildings, structural steel buildings, masonry buildings, architectural elements and electrical systems for ensuring construction of earthquake resistant buildings.
According to the MHW’s letter, the main challenge is in implementing the code and enforcing its various requirements which need to be taken care by all concerned Building Control Authorities (BCA)/Development Authorities (DA) at federal and provincial levels who invariably approve buildings plans that are required to be in accordance with the guidelines provided in the new Building Code to ensure construction of earthquake resistant buildings. Prescriptive measures are also to be observed by all concerned BCA/DA in this regard, it added.  

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