Chase store owners ‘compensate’ residents of fire-affected building

The fire has left the structure unsafe for habitation
<p>Source: Online</p>

Source: Online

Earlier this month, a departmental store at the intersection of Karachi Jail Chowrangi and Kashmir Road in East district was completely gutted in an inferno.

The fire, which was extinguished after 75 hours, was one of the longest-running infernos in the city.

It not only completely burnt the store but also severely damaged the foundations of the Sumya Bridge View building, which housed the store on the ground floor and several apartments on the upper floors.

Subsequently, the residents were evacuated, and the building declared “unfit for human habitation”.

The authorities have formed a team of experts to assess the structure and determine if it can safely host human habitation again.

Chase departmental stores’ management has claimed that they are compensating the residents till the building is declared safe for habitation.

The management has divided the residents of 170 apartments into two groups.

The owners of two-bedroom apartments are being paid Rs65,000 per month to cover for the rent of their alternate accommodation. The residents of three-bedroom apartments are being paid Rs90,000 per month, according to the management.

Restore or demolish: The fate of building damaged in Karachi’s departmental store fire
Restore or demolish: The fate of building damaged in Karachi’s departmental store fire

Talking to SAMAA Digital, the residents confirmed the store management’s claims.

Muhammad Furqan, one of the affectees, said he has been living with his family in a two-bedroom apartment in Bahadurabad area,

He said he was paid Rs65,000 as monthly rent since he owned a 2-bedroom unit in the affected building.

“We have received first compensation check from the store management and they have committed to pay every month till the maintenance of building,” he added.

He said around 100 residents have got their checks while 70 still await the compensation.

Most of the 70 affectees have outstanding monthly dues, like maintenance charges, to the apartment’s union committee.

Another resident Muhammad Faraz, who is now living with his mother, also confirmed receiving Rs65,000 from the management.

An agreement has been reached between the management and the residents to hand over the monthly rent checks to the apartment’s union committee which will distribute them among the affectees.

The chairman of the top body of Karachi’s builders said the store management is also responsible for the residents’ losses and damage to their properties.

ABAD Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani said the builder of the project handed over the possession to the residents in 2016 and sold the ground floor and basement/parking floor to Chase departmental store owners.

The departmental store owners converted the parking space into a warehouse and violated the approved building plan, he added.

“The Sindh Building Control Authority-SBCA and departmental store owners are responsible for the incident,” said Sheikhani.

Earlier, a government official claimed that the store owners hoarded cooking oil in the warehouse which had caught fire.

According to Ferozabad Assistant Commissioner Asma Batool the management, in anticipation of rising prices of food and non-food items, had stockpiled on many essentials, including cooking oil in its basement warehouse.

A criminal case against the owners of the departmental store has already been registered on the complaint of Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) District East Assistant Director Niaz Laghari.

The FIR stated that the basement of the subject building was reserved for car parking. However, the FIR alleged that the basement was “misused for godowns (warehouses) purpose by Chase Departmental Store established at ground floor.”

The FIR further called for registering the case against the three owners of the store in addition to “all sons of Iqbal A Ghaffar” for misusing the reserved car parking for warehousing purposes.

The FIR was registered under Section 420 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which pertains to cheating and dishonesty.

The clause reads:

Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property or the making, alteration or destruction of a valuable security.

Other clauses included in the FIR were Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which refers to acts committed by several people to further a common cause.

The clause reads:

Acts done by several persons In furtherance of common intention

When a criminal act is done by several people in furtherance of the common intention of all, each such person is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.

The police also included Section 322 of the CrPC in the FIR. The clause refers to unintentional murder with the option to pay of diyat.

It further notes that per the law, Section 322 allows the police to include at a later date, additional suspects in their investigation and file a case against them based on a complaint of the victim’s heirs.

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