Senate Committee Halts Margalla Road Construction

Web DeskAugust 12, 2023

A significant event occurred on Wednesday when the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change instructed the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Islamabad’s civic agency, to immediately cease the construction of a road through the Margalla Hills. The proposed road, starting at Shah Allah Ditta and cutting through the Margalla Hills National Park with the aim of connecting the capital to Haripur, was at the center of attention.

The committee’s decision was prompted by Rina Saeed Khan, Chairwoman of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), who highlighted that the CDA had initiated the project without conducting a crucial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This omission raised serious concerns about the potential adverse effects on the environment due to the road construction.

Khan referred to rulings from the Islamabad High Court that explicitly forbid any development within conservation areas. She accused the CDA of prioritizing real estate interests over the welfare of local communities and visitors. The road’s construction was seen as catering more to real estate ventures rather than serving the public’s best interests.

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An additional point of contention was the establishment of a golf course in the same vicinity. The committee was informed that the CDA had allocated 138 acres for the golf course, encroaching upon the Margalla Hills National Park. This encroachment raised questions about the protection of the park’s natural integrity.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman stressed the importance of clearly demarcating boundaries to prevent future encroachments. She recounted her efforts to engage with relevant officials to halt the road construction through the national park.IWMB officials expressed reservations about the CDA’s persistence in pursuing the road project despite the concerns raised. However, the CDA defended its actions by asserting that the designated 138-acre area for the golf course was part of the Chauntra community, separate from the national park’s boundaries.

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