Possible Directions for the Regulations and Bye-Laws Sub-Committee of the Oversee Committee of Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA)

1. General

1.1 Zoning regulations and bye-laws have to respond to the needs of the city and the trends and directions of growth and change. It is essential to know these trends. The Karachi Development Plan 2000 was to monitor them. It is necessary to know whether this is being done, and if not, then why not.

1.2 An essential element in the development of zoning regulations is the development of directions for the evolution of a preferred landuse for the city and its necessary modifications over time. This means five things:

  1. A base map of the city.
  2. An identification of space for essential functions and their growth such as for those related to transport, storage, warehousing, recreation and etc. Various master plans have identified these. Are there any problems related to their protection or acquisition?
  3. A land inventory of all government owned land along with its current landuse, ownership and location. This should be available to the public.
  4. An understanding that government land will primarily be used for the needs of the city as identified in (b) above, rather than for commercial purposes or for the generation of revenue.
  5. No landuse changes will take place without proper public hearing which is also compulsory under law.

2. Consultants

To achieve the above, it is normal to appoint consultants. However, from what I gather there are major financial constraints in doing this. In addition, experience with consultants on master plans and related matters throughout Pakistan has been that they have not taken the ground situation into consideration and have been more interested in completing the items listed in their TOR as soon as possible. As a result, there is a mismatch between the socio-economic reality and the planning directions that have been set.

As such, I propose that the KDA Master Plan sets up a working committee of its staff members who are acquainted with Karachi’s growth and problems. This committee should be supported by the Department of Architecture & Planning at the DCET. The Department has extensive knowledge on Karachi’s problems and its physical and social evolution as a result of more than two decades of work. The Department may receive some fee for this work.

3. Terms of Reference

3.1 The committee and/or consultants should first undertake studies as described below.

3.2 These studies should be followed by a presentation and discussion with the Regulations and Bye-laws Committee. Conclusions and recommendations derived from this presentation and discussions on it should be presented to the Oversee Committee.

3.3 Based on the feedback from the Oversee Committee, the sub-committee/consultants should develop the necessary draft zoning regulations and bye-laws.

3.4 Public hearings should be held on the bye-laws and objections invited before they are finalised.

4. Studies Under ToR

4.1 For Zoning Regulations

  1. Identification of major growth areas and their nature.
  2. Case studies of typical neighbourhoods in sensitive areas to determine the most common violations related to zoning regulations, the causes of these violations, and their social, physical and environmental repercussions (positive and negative) at the micro level and their contribution if any to larger environmental issues.
  3. Public and press reaction to these violations or to the resulting environmental repercussions.

4.2 For Bye-laws

  1. Case studies of the most common violations of bye-laws in different locations and in different building types, their causes and repercussions at the local level and their contribution to problems at the macro level.
  2. Case studies of areas and building complexes where bye-laws have not been violated. The case studies should look at the physical and socio-economic environment that emergences when the existing bye-laws are implemented. The negative aspects of such an environment have to be identified so that they can subsequently be addressed in the new bye-laws.
  3. The relationship between violation of bye-laws, land prices and real estate development has to be clearly established for sensitive areas.
  4. Areas which o not fall under any authority and where bye-laws are not applicable should also be identified. A few typical areas at different locations and/or different landuse should be studied to understand the environment that is being created there.

5. Sensitive Areas

5.1 Sensitive areas are those whose development and location has a direct bearing on the major movement patterns in the city and on the development of activity that has a degrading effect on the social and physical environment.

5.2 In my opinion, pressure can be removed from much of these areas by infrastructure development such as bye-passes and/or the development of the circular railway.

5.3 Such sensitive areas include:

  1. Conservation Areas: The Old Town Quarters, Frere Quarters, Sarai Quarters, Saddar. Special zoning regulations and bye-laws need to be developed for these areas since Karachi’s historic architecture and listed buildings are located in them.

    The DAP-DCET has a full time professor who is a conservationist. As such, the DAP-DCET can be of considerable help in this regard as conservation related legislation and regulations are a very specialised field. The committee could explore this possibility.

  2. The Lyari Corridor and its neighbouring settlements.
  3. Katchi abadis, both in the inner city and on the periphery: These abadis, once they have been regularised, do not fall under the control of any authority as far as building control is concerned. Consequently, in certain locations they quickly develop into high-rise slums. This matter can only be solved if an understanding on this issue can be arrived at through discussions with the KMC and SKAA. I feel that this should be initiated.
  4. There are a number of other sensitive areas that need protection due to ecological and environmental consideration. The committee/consultants should identify them.

6. Institutional Constraints

The committee/consultants must take into consideration the institutional constraints of the KBCA to implement the zoning regulations and bye-laws and the convenience and problems of the public. The regulations developed should be simply to understand, implement and monitor and should require the minimum of bureaucratic red-tapism. This is an important factor and may be the sub-committee may have some suggestions to make regarding it.

7. Time Frame

If the locations for study are carefully chosen; do not number more than three for each type; and the researchers rely on detailed interviews rather than questionnaires, the broad investigations can be terminated within two months.

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