Renowned businessmen and developer Hanif Gohar hardly needs any introduction. The Chairman of Gohar Group of Companies has been in the field of housing and development for three decades, besides a few more business ventures. One of the most credible names in real estate construction, Hanif Gohar has been the former Chairman of ABAD and Sr. Vice Chairman of FPCCI. For infocus.pk, he shares his valuable views on construction industry of Pakistan pertaining to environment and sustainability.
Question 1. Around the world in recent times, countries and corporate sectors are trying in their capacity not to harm the local environment and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Eco-friendly bye laws, Green buildings, recycled construction materials are being invented. Nothing such seen in Pakistan. Why?
Hanif Gohar. Housing and Construction sector has never been given importance in Pakistan. What to talk about sustainable construction. It is the first time the present government has given housing in Pakistan its due role.
Housing consumers in Pakistan do not rely on recycle building materials, it’s a big obstacle. However it’s now a trend that builders use energy-efficient electric lights like LEDs and etc. Thereafter use of solar panels have also increased.
As far as my firm is concerned, Gohar Builders developed the Gohar Green City which was first of its kind a totally environment-friendly neighborhood concept in the country. In Gohar Green City we provided nearly 50% space to greenery and horticultural beauty, which has been widely lauded.
Question 2. Non-regularized construction especially informal settlements, portions, katchi abadis have marred the civic infrastructure in Karachi. So does its environment and quality of health. How Karachi can come out of it keeping in view of growing need of housing demand in the city.
Hanif Gohar. In Karachi it is unfortunate that there has been a ban on highrise construction and although the judiciary has removed it, but still our projects are not being approved because of unavailability of water connections. But population is growing and so is migration in the city, which means demand is growing but there is cap on supply.
So when you shut the door on legal housing, non-regularized practices happen. That’s why katchi abadis are growing day by day and they are destroy the infrastructure and beauty of the city and more importantly crimes are growing. There is need to allow housings in the city like in Punjab and KPK, hopefully by doing so Karachi will come out of this present turmoil.
Question 3. You have been on important positions in ABAD and also FPCCI. However, these bodies specially ABAD has hardly done anything viable that stop irregular construction in Karachi. Why?
Hanif Gohar. I was the Chairman of ABAD in 2015-16. To stop illegal construction is the job of SBCA, ABAD can only points out the illegal construction to the SBCA. As a Chairman I did whatever in my capacity. However in this regards, there are concerned committees in ABAD like SBCA Committee, Environment Committee and many others, headed by senior conveners who look after these things and propose measures.
Question 4. Article 17(4) of SEPA asks developers to submit EIA report before development. Only few builders follow it, but in many cases violations are in practice. Provincial and local government officials are in hands with violators. Don’t you think ABAD should come up and implement strict measures within the association’ members. At least builders can be bound to submit EIA in ABAD Secretariat and get approval from it before initiating project.
Hanif Gohar. ABAD has it’s own Committee on Environment headed by a senior convener. Builders and developers now submit their projects before ABAD Secretariat and from there they are sent to SBCA and other relevant authorities for approvals. ABAD has a systematic mechanism in this regards, besides there is Disciplinary Committee and Complainant Committee so we are some sort of self-accountable within our Association.
Question 5. We have seen green spaces are depleting in the city, either because of encroachments or china cutting. The city really needs vast green cover but growing numbers of houses are also necessary. Don’t you think sustainable or green construction play an important role in this regards.
Hanif Gohar. It is important that we don’t allow encroachments any further and then reduce this practice slowly and steadily. Housing schemes are already bound to add green cover and now new highrises are already providing spaces for roof top gardens. It is time we should develop urban forests at the outskirts of the city. Roadside plantation should be increased and many things like that. It is good that people are realizing the importance of trees and plantations, and I am hopeful Green Construction will soon strengthen roots in Pakistan.