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Margallah Hills Society opposes the tunnel project

Photo_RoedadKhan_MHS_Sep22-2013 Photo2_RoedadKhan_MHS_Sep22-2013Lahore:  “Why dig a tunnel through the Margallah Hill National Park? What emergency or dire necessity justifies this assault on the Margallah Hill National Park?” Roedad Khan, President of Margallah Hills Society questioned while chairing an urgent meeting here on Sunday. The meeting was attended by a number of civil society representatives including Dr. Dushka Sayed, Wajahat Lateef, Aitzaz uddin Ahmed, Ameer Usman, Afzal Qahot and Zehra.”The Margallah Hill National Park, a gift of nature and an irreplaceable asset, is once again threatened by new danger of illegal road tunnel to link Haripur to Islamabad and this is a matter of great public interest and is causing deep concern to the citizens of Islamabad and environmentalists all over the country.” He expressed.

Briefing the background of project, he said: “The controversial project was first imposed by General Musharaf, a military dictator, in collusion with some powerful real estate agents, on the Capital Development Authority (CDA). That time, Margallah Hill Society (MHS) opposed the project and on March 29, 2012, when the case was taken up by the Supreme Court, the Counsel for CDA informed the Court that the Project had been deferred and was not being considered for the time being. The Court ordered that since the project had been abandoned for the time being, no further action was called for. We thought this would lay the project to rest permanently and felt confident that we had seen the back of it.”

“But on August 23, 2013, at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Tunnel Project which lay dormant all this time was resurrected with a bang. The Prime Minister informed the meeting, that “a tunnel through the Margallah Hill to link Islamabad with Haripur would provide a shorter route to commuters of Gilgit Baltistan, Mansehra and Abbotabad.” He informed.

Roedad Khan, calling the project illegal, said: “The country has a long established system, where procedures are laid down for appraisal of projects and which specify bodies empowered to sanction major projects. The system is intended to ensure that optimum use is made of public funds. The tunnel project does not appear to have been processed with the Planning Commission or sanctioned by ECNEC or approved by any higher authority including the Environment Division and the Environment Protection Agency.”

“If not checked, construction will almost certainly begin straightaway, causing incalculable harm to the Margallah Hill National Park and Islamabad.” Participants of the meeting regretted. On this occasion, copies of Supreme Court Decision and Directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his first tenure were also shared with the participants.

President MHS informed that he already sought the intervention of the Honorable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on this issue. He also thanked to Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed for submitting an Adjournment Motion in Senate and appealed to all citizens of Islamabad, all environmentalists across the country, all those who love Margallah Hill National Park and specially to the independent and vibrant media to oppose this illegal project. “We have done it before. We can do it again to save Margallah Hills.” Roedad Khan concluded.

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