KARACHI: The Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has sent notices and imposed financial penalties on many of its residents for “violating” its building control regulations by installing solar panels on their rooftops to generate electricity, it was revealed on Friday. Whereas, on the other hand, the federal government is emphasizing people use natural sources to generate electricity in order to reduce dependence on expensive fuels.
At the start of this month, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved a 10,000 MW solar energy project in order to minimize dependency on expensive imported fuel, furnace oil, and LNG for electricity generation. The Prime Minister also eliminated the 17% general sales tax on solar panels to encourage businesses and households to use solar energy.
It was a piece of surprising news for the DHA residents, who had previously granted them permission to install solar panels, and now are threatening to penalize them. “Authority asks house owners to either remove ‘the violation’ or get it regularized”. Previously, “they were encouraged to use solar panels and suddenly they are expected to cough up refurbishment charges that may amount to hundreds of thousands of rupees,” stated by DHA resident, Rashid H. Ansari.
Moreover, he also said that “They want us to get their permission for installing solar panels. And to get permission, there are certain conditions such as getting our memberships reviewed or renewed, paying refurbishment charges, and getting approval from architects and engineers who must also happen to be on their panel. Now we also have to pay these engineers their fee, which is no less than Rs100, 000 to Rs200, 000”.
Residents of DHA are calling it a “DHA’s chaudhrahat” They are the masters of all they survey, they have a complete monopoly, and no one is here to question them. Not only this but, people are also getting penalized for covering their driveway with a green garden shade netting to screen the light. They claimed that the reason was that they constructed a steel frame for it.
Moreover, DHA residents seem in anger by claiming that they are not treating everyone equally, some people are getting penalized whereas they have turned a blind eye to others. We can easily see many residents in DHA who have built kiosks and tents outside their houses to accommodate their security guards, and no one sees them or penalizes them.
A DHA spokesperson reported to the Dawn news that “the authority had mentioned in its 2020 bylaws, also uploaded on the website, that they support green energy. The official said that “All we ask for is that any new construction that includes provision for solar panels should have it in their design drawing and that the drawing is approved by a structural engineer”.
The representative concluded that “You should also look at things from DHA’s point of view. We can’t let everyone do as they please because then some steel structures for the panels will be too high, and some will be as low as your boundary wall. There needs to be some sort of symmetry, too”.