ISLAMABAD, Oct 5: The Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has served another notice on the civic authority asking it to conduct the environment impact assessment before beginning construction of the Margalla Avenue otherwise it would stop work on the project.
The Pak-EPA was opposed to a new road plan at the foot of the Margalla Hills that it believed could have dire environmental impacts.
According to documents available with Dawn, the environment protectors have urged the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to seek environmental approval for the 13-km long road connecting Islamabad to the Grand Trunk Road.
Pak-EPA said that it had reports that work on the construction of the Margalla Avenue was being carried out in violation of the Section 12 of the Environment Protection Act 1997.
Pak-EPA Director General Asif Shuja said that the law required all parties, public or private, submitted a report on possible damage to the surrounding environments from construction of building and road projects.
“In the case of the Margalla Avenue, neither an initial environmental examination (IEE) nor the environmental impact assessment (EIA) had been conducted to conserve the surrounding natural balance,” said the Pak-EPA DG.
The disregard for the law surprised Asif Shuja especially when Pak-EPA had bound the Capital Development Authority to seek environmental approvals for all its development projects. This agreement was reached back in 2008-09 when Pak-EPA objected to constructions of the 7th and 9th Avenues and the Zero Point Interchange.
Despite the agreement between the two offices, the CDA constructed the 3rd Avenue without conducting its environment assessment.
The Minister of Climate Change Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan too took exception to this violation.
“There should be no development at the cost of environment,” the Minister told Dawn commenting on the construction of the Margalla Avenue.
Environmentalist in the Ministry of Climate Change feared significant environmental degradation from the construction of the Margalla Avenue in the foothills that they believed was too close to the recognised conservation area. They maintained that the planners would not just have to ensure minimum environment degradation but come up with proper plans to manage development along the road where land was privately owned.
In the document available with Dawn, Pak-EPA warned that in case of non-compliance with the Environmental Act, a case would be filed in the Federal Environmental Protection Tribunal and penalty would be imposed.
The new member engineering, CDA, Sanahullah Aman was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.