Islamabad  - The World Wide Fund for Nature on Thursday while stressing concrete demarcation of Islamabad’s National park said that its rehabilitation and sustainable management was imperative to protect biodiversity for our future generations.

The National Park’s dedicated area contains some 17,000 hectares that includes Margalla hills, Rawal Lake and Shakar Parian but deforestation and construction in the area was pushing back wild life and shrinking their habitat. Talking to APP, WWF’s Manager Research and Conservation Jamshed said that the park’s area was reserved in 1980 but Capital Development Authority (CDA) could not manage to demarcate its official limits despite a span of 28 years.”The foremost job is concrete demarcation of the park to restrict infiltration” he added.

He said some ten years ago, the WWF had “on its own” marked the boundary of the area and installed pillars but the land mafia allegedly in connivance with the CDA officials, either moved or removed a large number of pillars to encroach the park’s land.

He said though in apex court’s direction the park’s management was handed over to Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) in 2016 but the civic body’s intervention was not allowing them to work freely. He said the trees were being chopped by the nearby localities as a source of fire to warm their houses in winter and for cooking as well due to non-availability of natural gas for the purpose. This he said was badly damaging the flora and fauna of Margalla hills. He suggested establishing at least four pickets in the area to stop cutting of the trees and imposition of sec 144 to halt construction so that the ecosystem could be protected.

An official from IWMB said recently, the survey of Pakistan was working on delineation with the help of Geographic Information System (GIS) but CDA did not own it. “Now IWMB is the custodian of the wild life in Pakistan and Chairman of our department decided in the previous protection committee’s meeting to demarcate the land that is being approved from authorities concerned” , she added. She said that they being the guardian of wild life were working closely with all stake holders and locals of villages for the protection of wild life.

CDA director for Environment Irfan Niazi rejecting WWF’s claim said that it had not conducted any demarcation as they only had given a presentation in apex court for which three CDA officials had to face suspension. “There is some non-acquired land in Margalla hills that is considered to be private land and their owners’ reserve same rights that a private land owner has”, he added. He said that the survey of Pakistan was working on it and called the other bodies’ demarcation was not valid. Irfan Ironically said that WWF was only enjoying perks and privileges and was offering lip service to the cause.

 

He however admitted the infiltration in the Park’s land and said their Enforcement Department was dealing with it and had lodged many First Information Reports against the park’s invaders.