IHC commissions a survey of the damage to Margalla Hills National Park. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday held the federal government, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), and the Islamabad Animal Management Board (IWMB) responsible for their complacency towards the destruction of Margalla Hills National Park and wildlife sanctuary.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah’s ten-page order expressed concern that those tasked with protecting and preserving the national park’s allocated territory appeared to have been responsible for its destruction.
They issued the ruling during the hearing of a suit filed by Prof Zahid Baig Mirza, alleging that the Islamabad Master Plan had been violated (IMP).
Khalid Jawed Khan, Pakistan’s Attorney General (AGP), requested to consult with the administration.
The court holds the federal government, the CDA, and the IWMB accountable for their complacency about park and animal sanctuary destruction.
The order remarked that in the instance of the designated national park area, the role of these three organizations appeared to be a textbook illustration of the erosion of the rule of law and promotion of environmental degradation.
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The order noted that the damage already done must be immeasurable and irreversible, regretting that the court did not hesitate to record its observation that governance in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) over the last six decades appeared to have been based on benefiting the privileged and elite.
“Policymakers’ actions and decisions appear to have facilitated environmental degradation, severely harming the people of Pakistan’s basic rights,” the order concluded.
As a result, the IHC directed Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, the secretary of climate change, the chairman of the CDA, and the chairperson of the IWMB to conduct a joint survey of the notified areas of the national park and wildlife sanctuary and submit a joint report detailing the damage.
The directive stated that they are also expected to take urgent action to protect the notified area from further harm, adding that these officials would ensure that no construction or illegal activities occurred within the park’s notified area.
Additionally, they will identify the officials and agencies responsible for the park’s damage and propose ways to hold them accountable.
Any activity or construction in violation of the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Ordinance 1979 be halted, the order stated, adding that the AGP should examine the purported grant of more than 8,000 acres in the park to the General Headquarters (GHQ) Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate and assist the high court in determining its legality, as it appears to violate the laws on the face of it.
Additionally, the CDA will submit a report justifying leasing land in the park to Messers Monal Group of Companies and authorizing the latter to enter into a fictitious lease arrangement with the Remount.
Additionally, the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency director-general will conduct an independent examination of the wildlife sanctuary and park’s notified areas and submit a report outlining the level of environmental deterioration and recommending ways to prevent further degradation.
Additionally, the court modified its March 3, 2021, decision to require Monal Restaurant to deposit any unpaid rent in the court where litigation was pending until Dec 8.
Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the life-threatening consequences of climate change. According to the court, experts have identified Pakistan as a primary target of global warming.
The invasion and destruction of the national park endanger the lives of Pakistanis, and those responsible for the park’s irreparable harm and destruction have jeopardized future generations, it mourned.
The directive stated that the rich and elite benefit, while the impoverished and marginalized segments of society bear the brunt of climate change and global warming.
The state and its public officials have a fundamental obligation to end such impunity, it noted.
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