CDA, ICT lack capacity to prevent commercial buildings’ refuse flow into Rawal Lake

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Zubair Qureshi

Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration lack capacity as well as funds to implement Supreme Court’s April 24 order with regard to developing a waste management plan and identifying encroachment in the catchment areas of the Rawal Dam that caused pollution in waters of Rawal Lake.
Talking to Pakistan Observer, officials of the two public sector organizations tasked with civic and municipal uplift of the city, admitted they lacked capacity as well as funds to ensure waters of the Rawal Dam are not polluted.
Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, a three-judge Supreme Court bench on April 24, had directed the city fathers to chalk out a comprehensive plan and submit report before the court on the next date of hearing (May 10) with regard to ensuring transparent and safe supply of water to the residents of Islamabad from the Rawal Lake.
The court had taken suo motu notice on a letter, written by Imran Khan, complaining about the unchecked and unplanned construction in Banigala, widespread denuding due to large scale deforestation and the pollution of the Rawal Lake with sewage. “The project is huge and requires around Rs50 million, said an official adding the entire area along the Rawal Lake needed to be demarcated, paved, secured and walled at some points. Besides, a water treatment plant was also required to be installed before it is supplied to the residents. The activity is quite expensive as well as requires a large manpower solely deputed for this, said he. At present refuse from the commercial buildings in the area is finding its way into the lake which stores drinking water for the people of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
It may be mentioned that Imran Khan had personally appeared before the Supreme Court, regretted that in 15 years he had lived in Banigala, the botanical garden along Korang Road side had been reduced to half its size due to unchecked encroachment and the construction of multi-storey commercial plazas.
Islamabad Advocate General (AG) Mian Rauf told the court in a report that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had issued funds for the demarcation and construction of a wall around the botanical garden, spread over 725 acres, on March 7. Mian Rauf also informed the court that the relevant department had also been told to end encroachment in the areas of Moza Utal, Malot, Phulgran and Banigala.
The court directed the Islamabad AG to purchase any private property or land if it comes within the premises of the botanical garden. In his complaint, Mr Khan had requested the Supreme Court to take notice of the mushroom growth of unregulated and unplanned commercial plazas in picturesque Banigala. Unless this trend is halted, the complaint regretted, it would spell disaster for the well-being of the future generations, especially since Pakistan was one of the worst victims of global warming. In his letter, the PTI chief stated that he had personally spoken to the relevant people in CDA over the years, drawing their attention to the continuous transgressions of the law in Banigala, but to no avail.
“I am compelled to draw your attention to two critical violations of the law, which has long term degenerative effects on our environment and health and welfare of our future generations,” the complaint regretted, requesting the court to compel CDA to act against encroachers, land mafias and anarchic builders who were turning Banigala into a concrete jungle.
“Unplanned and unregulated plazas were cropping up across Banigala with no sewerage and waste disposal systems in place or being planned,” Mr Khan wrote, adding that if left unchecked, all the refuse from these buildings would find its way into Rawal Lake, which stores drinking water for the inhabitants of Rawalpindi.

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