In a review of Tripadvisor the Margalla Hills have been praised as the “crown oven” over Islamabad, but today the Margalla Hills are subject of land encroachments, illegal construction, commercial misuse and deliberate incidents of wildfire. That’s why in the Margalla Hills National Park encroachment case this month, the Islamabad High Court declared all commercial activities in the vicinity of Margalla National Park illegal and ordered their demolition or closure. The landmark judgment has been greatly lauded because these commercial activities were continued in a protected national park area.
Encroachments on Margalla Hills
Margalla Hills National Park including the Margalla Hills range, is an expensive tract at the foothills of the greater Himalayas, alongside Shakarparian Park and Rawal Lake. Established in 1980, the Park covers 67.13 square miles and rich in biodiversity of fauna and flora. It is the third-largest national park in the world with an area of 17,386 hectares.
The Islamabad High Court, in their breakthrough judgment, ordered that Pakistan Navy shall cease to own the Golf Course in Margalla Hills. Besides, the apex court ordered the authorities to raze the theme park of Pakistan Navy at Rawal Lake. Moreover, it has also sealed the Monal restaurant at the top of hills as it is considered encroachment too in the national park. It is important to mention that the judiciary blamed the federal government, the Capital Development Authority and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board for being complacent about the destruction of Margalla Hills National Park and the wildlife sanctuary.
Although, Islamabad Master Plan clearly states that there shall be no construction in the capital’ Zone 3, where the Margalla range passes, but Illegal construction continues in Islamabad’s Margalla Hills National Park.
The architects of Islamabad Master Plan viewed the new city with an emphasis on environmental protection. They termed the Margalla Hills as the oxygen suppliers to inhabitants of the capital and also had an eye on other key issues such as protecting wildlife, design a new urban center and plan a sustainable infrastructure for the new capital of Pakistan. This ban on construction in certain areas of the city, including Zone 3, has been outlined on the basis of Islamabad’s Master Plan.
But unfortunately the ban on construction has never been implemented on the rich, wealthy and powerful people of Islamabad.
The judgment against encroachment and illegal developments on Margalla Hills was genuinely given on environment protection grounds. The remarks of courts are aptly valid and extremely valuable in this regards.
As the court observes Pakistan is amongst the top countries ranked most vulnerable to the life threatening outcome of climate change. Experts have classified Pakistan as a prime target of global warming. The court regrets that encroachment and destruction of the national park has life threatening consequences for the people of Pakistan and those who are responsible for the irreversible damage and destruction of the park have put the future generations at a great risk. Most importantly the court remarks the beneficiaries of these encroachments and commercial misuse are the privileged, while the elite while the poor and marginal classes of society have been exposed to the consequences of climate change and global warming.