ISLAMABAD                -          The Supreme Court of Pakistan will resume hearing of the case against the illegal constructions and cutting of trees on Margalla Hills National Park after Eid holidays while in this matter the court had already stopped the illegal constructions and cutting of trees.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed will conduct hearing of a petition against illegal constructions and hacking of trees on Margalla Hills.

During the previous hearing, Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) informed that a restaurant in Monal has cut down 200 trees for illegal expansion. The bench said that the restaurant should be stopped from doing so and it should plant the trees it has cut.

The court said that the orders are applicable to the government of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) too as a portion of the hills falls within their jurisdiction too.

The apex court also ordered the Islamabad administration to replant trees that were felled during the attempted expansion of the restaurant. Islamabad Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmed told the court that the administration had already sealed the Monal restaurant and proceeded against the restaurant by initiating action against them.

The SC was told that former CDA chairman Kamran Lashari had allowed Monal to be constructed in the national park. In his order, Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that the Margalla Hills, which spread from Islamabad to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw, were declared a national park and heritage site and no part of this area could therefore be allotted to any private individual for commercial activity or a private residence.

 

The chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) also told the court that a number of restaurants have developed in the area, while other establishments including Pine Residentia offer hotel and guest house services.

The court said that all these constructions were illegal and against the spirit of the MHNP and should be stopped and demolished. The court summoned the owners of Monal and Pine Residentia to appear in court for the next hearing after the Eid holidays.

According to earlier reports, the total area of the Margalla Reserved Forest is 17,111 acres, which is surrounded by KP, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. After Islamabad was built, the CDA approached the provincial government of West Pakistan to transfer management of these reserve forests, after which 12,511 acres - 11,870 acres of the Margalla Reserve Forest and 641 acres of Banigala - were leased to the CDA in 1961. An agreement to this effect was signed between the West Pakistan agriculture secretary and the CDA’s horticulture directorate in 1966. In 1980, it was declared a national park.