CDA fails to demarcate Margalla Hills National Park property

CDA fails to begin demarcation of Margalla Hills National Park property despite a court injunction.
Even though the Islamabad High Court (IHC) told the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to do so, the park’s boundaries have not yet been set (MHNP).

On January 11, 2022, the IHC gave the order for the boundaries of MHNP to be set within 60 days. On March 1, CDA Member Planning Naveed Illahi told a five-person committee that the boundary needed to be done. However, sources said that no proper demarcation had been done yet so that a report could be given to the high court.

The notification from March 1 said that the director of environment (regional) of the CDA would be in charge of the committee. The other members would be the additional deputy commissioner revenue ICT, the deputy commissioner CDA, and people from the defence ministry and the Survey of Pakistan.

A copy of the IHC decision says, “The respective secretaries of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior, and Chairman CDA shall jointly conduct a survey and mark the unharmed area of the notified National Park.”

“The survey and boundary marking must be done within 60 days of this order. “They will make sure that no activity or construction is allowed within the notified National Park, as required by MLR-82, the CDA Ordinance of 1960 and regulations made under it, the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation, and Management Ordinance of 1979, and the Islamabad Preservation of Landscape Ordinance of 1966,” the judgement said.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah also told the local government on January 11 to close the enormous naval golf course in the Margalla Hills National Park and to tear it down in four weeks if it can’t be used in a way that is good for the environment.

The court also ruled against the military’s claim to more than 8,000 acres of the national park and told the CDA to close the Monal Restaurant, which was built in the park.

It also asked the defence ministry to make sure that the rent money was put into the government’s general fund.

The court told the defence secretary to find out which officials were in charge of building the golf course, and it told the CDA chairman to look into how Monal and other restaurants were built on national parkland.

After the CDA built the Monal Restaurant, it rented it out for 15 years. That lease ended last year. But a few years before the lease was up, the person who had it started paying rent to the military. This was because a notice from 1912 said that the land where Monal was built belonged to the military.

After the IHC order, the CDA and the ICT administration sealed Monal. However, the Supreme Court later told them to open it up.

When contacted by Dawn on Monday, a committee member in charge of drawing the line said that the process had not yet been done.

He did say, though, that the committee had met and would do so again next week.

“Soon, we’ll start a proper demarcation of MHNP,” he said, adding that focal persons had been chosen from all the relevant departments. This meant the distinction wouldn’t take longer than it already had.

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