The construction and real estate industry is the 2nd biggest sector in Pakistan in terms of providing employment and business opportunities. And, Mohsin Sheikhani is the most renowned, relevant and respectable name in this industry. He is the Patron in Chief of Association of Builder and Developers (ABAD) and also served as the Chairman of ABAD several times.
In his busy schedule, he took out time to meet the team of Infocus and invited us at Nastla Tower, where he was sitting with the residents and protestors of the project with other members of ABAD. His reasons and arguments carry weight against the ongoing demolition drive in the city. On our insistence, he also shared some of his views about sustainable and green construction in Pakistan, which are given below.
Q. Sir, how do you see sustainable construction in Pakistan?
Mohsin Shekhani; The problem is, the need of housing in Pakistan is big and multifaceted. There is already need of millions of houses at present in this country and each year it is increasing with a drastic ratio. We cannot ignore this fact when we talk about sustainable construction. Sustainability is definitely good and need of the modern time, but just look at the example of Karachi where more than 50% people live in informal settlement, which is creating mess and increasing crime in the city. Therefore provision of housing is much more important to make the city sustainable first.
Q. How can such a big number of houses bring sustainability?
Mohsin Shekhani; Availability of housing for unsheltered is more important than sustainability. If we ask for provision of houses than it means this process also runs 70 plus other allied industries, provides employment, bread and butter and moves the wheel of economy of an under-developed nation. The Prime Minister Imran Khan’ housing program and the government Construction Package 2020 mirrors the same idea and one can see the positive impacts of it in Pakistan’ recent economic turnaround.
Q. You just mentioned example of Karachi, where houses and residential structures are being demolished nowadays. Is this because, somewhere there was any shortcoming in building regulations?
Mohsin Shekhani; The question of sustainability is also very much depend upon rules or bylaws on which a housing project is being constructed. At present, within Karachi there are no uniformed rules for housing and development. As an example for Bahria Town there different rules and for members of ABAD there are other rules. On the other hand illegal construction is also going on, which doesn’t follow any rule or regulation. Why the law and anti-corruption enforcers or even our respected judiciary look into these irregularities?
A homebuyer who spends money for his family’ shelter must be satisfied that he is buying in a reliable project, free from all departmental wrongdoings or official negligence. But despite having approved building plan and sanctioned lease, the sustainability of the project is questioned. Why, and which institution now will look into that. Also, if there is any wrongdoing with an approved or leased project, the concerned officers of the civil or building authorities should be questioned rather nabbing builders and disturbing homeowners.
Q. Many builders are opting for sustainable or green technologies in their projects, as wirings, lightings and energy-efficient materials are used in modern times. Isn’t it a welcome move?
Mohsin Shekhani; Yes, that’s a fact many modern highrises are now high-performance buildings and housing societies in Pakistan are being built keeping in view to offer maximum benefits and comforts to inhabitants without harming environment. We now choose the color of a house keeping in view it’s suitability with climate. So are plumbing materials, marbles, tiles and etc. Builders and homebuyers both nowadays optimize use of energy, which is the most significant way of sustainable and green construction. Minimum maintenance and proper use of waste materials have become a part of a project construction, in order to facilitate and comfort homebuyers.
Q. Environment compliance is a big issue, when a builder starts construction in Pakistan and especially in Karachi. Is it right?
Mohsin Shekhani; During construction, there are already many compliances from SBCA, SEPA, KDA and other civic agencies, which we adopt to reduce the risk factor of environment and health. Safe storage and use of building materials is a must compliance. I also see, now many projects highlights roof top garden and recreation facilities at the top. It is all good and welcoming sign.
Q. You are the Patron in Chief of ABAD. Does the builders’ body also act in this regard?
Mohsin Shekhani; ABAD is the only and biggest platform of builders and developers in Pakistan, therefore we have a great responsibility on our shoulders. ABAD has its own Environment and CSR committees headed by conveners and relevant members in it. Regular meetings are arranged in which complains of members are addressed. So you can say it is a kind of self-accountability which we always follow.
Q. Do you think builders now prefer eco-friendly construction materials over traditional building materials in market?
Mohsin Shekhani; Modern building materials that are being manufactured and brought in market are designed or developed keeping in view the sustainable and environment factor. Interior materials like energy-efficient lightings and wirings, home appliances that emit low carbon, roof insulators, and water conservation technologies, they are now commonly used in buildings and construction these days and day by day the trend is increasing.