ISLAMABAD - Acting on the Supreme Court’s directives, the district government of Islamabad yesterday sealed off Monal Restaurant situated at the Margalla Hills of the federal capital for encroaching forest lands and filed a case against it.

The apex court yesterday had directed the authorities to stop all illegal constructions on Margalla Hills.

In recent past, taking benefit of an ongoing dispute over the ownership of land in Margalla Hills between CDA, MCI and the Remount Veterinary & Farms Directorate GHQ, the Monal Restaurant had started encroaching state land in violation of the Supreme Court decision. The management of the restaurant chopped dozens of trees and shrubs on the forest land adjacent to its existing building.

Earlier, the Remount Veterinary & Farms Directorate GHQ Rawalpindi claimed its ownership over 8603 acres of land in Margalla Hills including the area where Monal Restaurant is located.

However, both the MCI and CDA neither refuted nor accepted the claim officially so far and resultantly after finding complete silence from city managers, the leaseholder of the Monal Restaurant started paying monthly rent to the GHQ Rawalpindi.

Now, few days back, the restaurant management had started construction work on its adjacent forest land and an excavation was underway by using heavy machinery in which a number of trees and shrubs were chopped.

Sources informed that the leaseholder of Monal Restaurant Luqman Ali Afzal claims that he has been given a go-ahead by military authorities to add more land into its premises however there is no such permission available on the record of MCI and CDA — which are the real owner of his restaurant’s building and he is just a leaseholder or tenant.

On the other side, the Environment Directorate MCI had warned Luqman not to encroach the state land.

The Director Forest MCI had also approached Islamabad Police for registration of a case and sought magisterial cover to stop this illegal activity on ground.

The reliable sources informed that Islamabad District Administration and Police were reluctant to take action against the lease holder of Monal Restaurant due to his influence in power corridors.

However, on Tuesday when the apex court intervened and directed to take action then the city managers become active, lodged a case at the Kohsar Police Station in addition to sealing of Monal Restaurant.

Luqman was tried to approach for comments but he was unavailable, however, his personal assistant Adnan informed that there was no civil work underway but it was a beautification activity to avoid bushfires. He stated further that Monal is a supporter of green and clean environment and trees were not chopped by Monal.

When contacted, a senior officer of the authority informed on the condition of anonymity that the Chief Commissioner Islamabad Amir Ali Ahmed who is also Chairman CDA and deposed Mayor of Islamabad Shaikh Anser Aziz both remained silent since the dispute of ownership arose.

“How can we allow Monal Restaurant to encroach forest land without any approval from the competent authority”, he said.

The building in which the Monal Restaurant is operating was constructed by CDA and it was leased in 2006 to Luqman Ali Afzal, which is now an iconic eatery of the capital city.