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KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday authorized the commissioner of Karachi to remove billboards and signboards from the city, which include all the billboards from the government buildings as well as dangerous ones from private properties.

The Supreme Court at its Karachi Registry told the commissioner of Karachi that he was fully empowered to remove the billboards when a three-member bench of the SC, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard a case relating to billboards in the metropolis.

The bench lashed out at the authorities responsible for the affairs of Karachi, including the Sindh government, the mayor of Karachi, the K-Electric and others, over their negligence towards the city.

While hearing the case relating to the billboards that had been swept away during strong winds and injured people, the CJP asked where was the mayor of the city, who complained about lack of powers.

"Go home if you don't have powers, and why are you sitting as mayor," Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked, inquiring about the end of the tenure of the mayor of Karachi, who said he would leave his office on August 28, 2020.

Lashing out at the mayor, the CJP said that he was responsible for the affairs of the city as people voted him into the mayor's office to do something for them.

The Advocate-General of Sindh, Salman Talabuddin, told the court that a case had been registered on the issue of billboards causing injuries, triggering a remark from the judge that the entire city had been full of billboards, which could cause destruction if they fell.

The CJP also came down on the Sindh government and said that it and the local bodies were "enemies of city".

"Where is the writ of the Sindh government?" asked the CJP and said that the billboards' issue was in violation of the building codes and was presenting a dismal picture of the city.

The CJP also took the KE to task for death of people due to electrocution in the rains and remarked that a case should be registered against the KE and its administration.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that everyone indulged in destroying the city and remarked that it seemed that this city was in the grip of the mafias.

Meanwhile, the commissioner of Karachi told the bench that the green belt had been restored after removal of encroachments at the Shahrah-e-Quaideen.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that the outlook of Shahrah-e-Quaideen has entirely changed as small houses have been converted into tall buildings.

"Who gave the permission for raising these buildings?" the CJP questioned.

The commissioner of Karachi informed the court that the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) had granted permission to various people for these buildings.

The court ordered that the green belt should be completely restored in one month on the Shahrah-e-Quaideen.

During the hearing of the case to demolish the Sea Breeze Plaza on the M.A. Jinnah Road, NESPAK and the Cantonment Board presented a report in the court.

The bench ordered to furnish a comprehensive report about strengthening of the plaza.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020