Wednesday Dec 08, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday directed the additional attorney-general of Pakistan to give arguments at the next hearing on a petition highlighting the violation of the Islamabad Master Plan (IMP) in the Margalla Hills National Park encroachment case.
During the hearing, Additional Attorney-General (AG) Qasim Wadood informed the bench, headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, that a committee comprising Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman and Islamabad Wildlife Management Board chairman conducted a survey of the national park.
The IHC had ordered these officials to jointly survey the notified areas of the national park and the wildlife sanctuary and furnish a joint report highlighting the damage that had been caused, Dawn had reported.
"The Margalla National Park encompasses thousands of acres of land. There are many categories of Margalla Hills," Wadood said.
Responding to Wadood's comment, IHC CJ Minallah remarked that there are no categories of Margalla Hills but "just one national park, the ownership of which is held by the federal government".
Additional AG Wadood apprised that the Punjab government had allotted the 8,000 acres of land in 1910.
Justice Minallah inquired who had encroached the allotted land and what the basis of the survey conducted by prime minister's special assistant was.
The CDA officials informed the court that keeping security threats due to Pakistan's war against terrorism in mind, a boundary wall had been built around the national park in 2012.
They said 157 encroachments have been removed from the national park.
Justice Minallah inquired about the Naval Golf Club built on the national park's land.
"Who is answerable if the [golf club] is an encroachment," IHC CJ Minallah asked the additional AG.
Responding to the question, Wadood said that whomever who has built the club is responsible for it.
"Is there no law in the city [Islamabad]? Was CDA sleeping?" Justice Minallah asked.
Justice Minallah said that the CDA is the final authority to allot land.
"You cannot change the ownership of a national park," Justice Minallah remarked while addressing Wadood.
"Where does the master plan state that the ownership can be changed?"
He asked why action wasn't taken against the illegal construction of Naval Golf Club on Margalla Hills National Park's land.
The CDA officials informed the court that the club is not constructed on the allotted land.
"It is a defence organisation now and a notice under Section 21 of the CDA Ordinance has also been issued," CDA officials stated.
The comment drew the IHC CJ's ire as he asked if the authority issues notices under Section 21 to those living in shanties or raze them without notification.
"Are there any cantonment areas left in Islamabad after the CDA Ordinance?" Justice Minallah asked.
The IHC directed the additional AG to give his arguments at the next hearing and adjourned the hearing till January 11.