Islamabad—Capital Development Authority (CDA) has once again decided to restart the decades old plan to set up a chairlift from the foothills of Margalla Hills to Pir Sohawa. The CDA officials confirmed that the authority had decided to execute the project and in this regard applications will be invited from national and international firms which are interested in this project to be completed under Build, Operate and Transfer basis. The project will be handed over to the civic body after the stipulated period. The officials said that allocations have been made in the current fiscal budget of the civic body for the execution of this much delayed project.
In fact Rs 28 billion have been allocated for the new development projects including Bhara Kahu bypass, Shahdara waterfall, widening of Islamabad Expressway, Margalla chair lift and up gradation of the F-9 Park.
Under the project, cable cars will operate close to the Islamabad Zoo, stop briefly at Daman-i-Koh and reach Nakhiala Peak near the Pir Sohawa village. The entire distance is 2.5 kilometers, and the base camp will be 1,995 feet above sea level with a peak station at 3,839 feet.
The CDA officials said that the project will be environment friendly. We will ensure all aspects of the environment are considered and that the project will help further improve the landscape of the capital and boost tourism. It will also help reduce traffic on Daman-e- Koh Road.
The chairlift project is not a new one as different administrations of the civic body announced to go ahead with the project but later it was shelved. In 2002, when CDA was a subordinate organisation of the interior ministry, the then interior minister chaired several meetings to launch the project but still failed to execute it.
Back then, the total cost of the project was estimated at Rs500 million. Despite announcing the project at various stages, the CDA would postpone it after heavy criticism from environmentalists.
This time around, the authority’s management is optimistic that it will win the support of environmentalists. The CDA officials said that the capital city need this project for its face lift and this will be executed with the consent of environmentalists. “There should be no issue of the environment because we already have some developed points at the base camp and at Daman-i-Koh.”
Some CDA officials however said that the management would face criticism for initiating the project. Margalla Hills was declared a ‘national park’ in 1980, under Section 21(1) of the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Conservation and Management) Ordinance 1979.
They said the park’s status prohibits any commercial activity or settlement in the area. CDA has previously relaxed these rules, and developed Daman-i-Koh and the Monal Restaurant in the heart of the Margalla Hills, thereby disturbing wildlife.
One senior CDA official said he didn’t think the current management would succeed in executing the “anti-environment” project. The CDA is also considering building a safari park in the capital.