ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has passed the buck on the Punjab government for massive illegal felling of trees in the capital.
On October 6, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar issued a notice to the federal government with directions to come up with a comprehensive rejoinder to an application moved by former deputy attorney general Dil Muhammad Alizai about unchecked felling of trees within the precincts of the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) area.
In his application, Alizai has named the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Forest Department of the Punjab as respondents.
The mover, who lives in Chaman Zar Hill Colony, 17 Mile, near Bara Kahu, contended in his application that some people regularly come to the wooded area at night to fell trees.
Despite the fact that these people continue cutting trees throughout the night, no one has ever bothered to check on the denuding of the green areas.
In addition to the jungle area near his house, Alizai explained, he often saw felling of trees from Convention Centre up to Bara Kahu whenever he left the Supreme Court for his residence.
He has pleaded before the court to order conducting an inquiry to ascertain how long this exercise of unabated felling of trees was going on and also to determine the extent of denuding of the area.
In its response to the court’s order, the CDA submitted that the applicant lives in an area along Murree Road.
“Reserved forest compartment number one to six of forest area, where illegal tree cutting is being carried out, belongs to the Punjab Forest Department and does not fall in MHNP, therefore, the CDA Directorate of Environment does not take action and is not responsible for cutting of trees in these forests as they do not fall under [its] administrative control,”, says the reply.
It is further stated that a Punjab Forest Department check post is also located in main Bhara Kahu Bazaar on the Islamabad-Murree Expressway.
The CDA also informed that while illegal logging is a compoundable offence, natural gas is not available in 32 local villages.
No concession is allowed for these villagers on the cutting of green trees, and fines are imposed if such activity is detected. Offenders who refuse to pay the fine are being prosecuted in the court of a CDA magistrate.
Regarding fires, the reply states that the forest area does not relate to National Park, where elaborate arrangements are made to douse forest fires every summer.
“More than 600 officials perform duties in two shifts round-the-clock with the operational vehicle. Moreover, as per arrangements with the Emergency Relief Cell, helicopters are also used to control larger fires, if any.”
The 40,000-acre Margalla Hills National Park is located on north of Islamabad, along the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) boundary. The boundary of the park ends along Grand Trunk Road on one side, and Dungi Kas Nullah –almost 1,000 metres from Bhara Khau Bus Stop – on the Islamabad-Murree Expressway.
Courtesy : Express Tribune