ISLAMABAD -  The Punjab Mines and Mineral Department Friday submitted a report in the Supreme Court of Pakistan about cutting of trees, mining and crushing activities at Margalla Hills. The report stated that the federal government declared the area of Margalla Hills, facing Islamabad city, as National Park vide notification 3(15)/6-CDA-III dated 27-04-1980. It said that in order to preserve the environment and eco-system, the then Prime Minister on 20-04-1991 issued directive that the environment hazards being caused by quarrying within the area of National Park closer to Islamabad should be stopped and appropriate action should be taken by all the concerned authorities. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) was directed to physically and clearly demarcate the boundaries of National Park and strictly enforce the law for preservation the National Park. The report added that pursuant to the PM direction, the Punjab government through notification dated 22-06-2001 declared an area of 1000 yards from ICT boundaries extending toward Rawalpindi district as a buffer zone/prohibited area for mining and crushing of minerals of any kind for preservation of environment. It further said that after the Prime Minister’s directive dated 20-04-1991, 109 blocks of limestone falling in buffer zone, district Rawalpindi were deleted from grant of lease for mining. After leaving buffer zone of one kilometer from ICT boundary, in Rawalpindi district mining and crushing were allowed at an isolated hillock near Taxila through auction during 1992-97, 1999-2004 and 2004-09. It said that in order to adopt a uniform policy for grant of limestone mining leases in the Punjab, a summary was initiated by mines and mineral department to the then chief minister of Punjab on 04-06-2009. The chief minister vide his orders dated 30-07-2009, while approving the departmental proposals, imposed complete ban on mining, crushing and blasting activities falling in tehsil Taxila, Rawalpindi district. However, on account of judicial intervention, work of lessees having valid leases was allowed to be continued till leased period. It said that eventually the ban was lifted in 2016. Accordingly, 53 leases of new blocks of limestone were prepared by the Mines & Mineral Department comprising isolated hillocks near Taxila, Rawalpindi district.

The Supreme Court taking notice of cutting of trees in various parts of Margalla Hills falling within the territorial boundaries of ICT, KPT and Punjab initiated suo moto proceedings in this matter.

In view of the apex court orders, 51 blocks out of 53 blocks were put to auction for grant of mining leases through open auction held on 19-08-2016.