As the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) gears up to take action against ‘illegal’ marriage halls in the city from Monday, the All Karachi Marriage Halls Association (AKMHA) has called a strike starting tomorrow [Sunday, Jan 27].
Rana Raees Ahmed, president of the association, made the announcement on Saturday while addressing a protest demonstration outside the SBCA’s head office in Civic Centre.
The protesters, mostly owners of wedding halls, held a sit-in outside the SBCA office and blocked the road leading to the old vegetable market area, resulting in a massive traffic jam on one side of University Road.
According to Ahmed, the authority has issued notices to 50 per cent of the marriage halls in districts East and Central, directing them to halt commercial activities on the plots.
He announced that, in protest, all ceremonies scheduled to be held in AKMHA-member marriage halls on Sunday have been cancelled. The move is likely to result in considerable distress and financial loss to citizens who had booked these halls for tomorrow.
Talking about their problems, the protesters told the media that the authority had given them three days to shift their business, which, according to them, was impossible.
The SBCA has given a three-day ultimatum to all businesses being run on amenity plots or residential plots or converted plots to halt their activities.
They said that the SBCA, on the pretext of court orders, has also been issuing notices to marriage halls which had been constructed on plots legally converted into commercial from residential with the approval of competent authorities.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had directed the provincial authorities to demolish all illegal constructions in the city.
“Go and demolish every structure that is in violation of the city’s original master plan and restores [Karachi] to its 40-year-old state,” Justice Gulzar had said while hearing a case pertaining to illegal constructions in the city.
The bench had ordered that residential plots should not be used for commercial purposes and told authorities to submit details of shopping centres, wedding halls and plazas built on residential plots over the last 30 to 40 years.
“Who is allowing the construction of wedding halls, shopping centres and plazas in every other street?” the judge had asked during the hearing of the case. “Should we hand the city’s control over to the federal government?”