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Tunnel project set to echo in parliament

September 21, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: The controversy over a plan to link Islamabad with Haripur through a multi-lane tunnel via the Margalla Hills is set to echo in parliament.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the secretary general of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) and chairman Senate defence committee, has submitted an adjournment motion to the upper house on the project.

"According to reports in the media, on August 23, 2013, at a meeting presided over by the prime minister it was announced that a decision had been taken for construction of a tunnel through the Margalla Hills to link Islamabad with Haripur to provide a shorter route to commuters of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mansehra and Abbottabad.

This is a matter of urgent public importance since such a tunnel would be in violation of the laws governing the Margalla Hills National Park,” Senator Mushahid stated.

He said the project, which has neither been proposed by the Planning Commission nor sanctioned by Ecnec or approved by any higher authority, including the environment division, would have dangerous implications for the ecology and environment of the national park. Besides, it would not only be illegal but will also be detrimental to the environment of the federal capital.

"As elected representative of the citizens of Islamabad in the Senate, this is a matter of great public importance for me and it also causes a deep concern for the citizens of Islamabad and environmentalists,” he said.

He requested the chairman Senate to adjourn the normal proceedings of the house to discuss the matter of urgent public importance.

It may be noted that Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and the PML-Q have started opposing the idea of a tunnel soon after disclosure of the project.

It has also become a favourite subject of discussion on the social media with some reminding that real estate tycoon Malik Riaz had once offered to pay off the entire financial liabilities of the government if he was allowed to undertake the project involving construction of multi-storey buildings having a potential of generating revenues worth billions of dollars.—Iftikhar A. Khan