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Margalla Hills stone crushing units to be demolished in two weeks

February 12, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad capital territory (ICT) administration has promised to demolish all stone crushing units operating inside its territory and the Margalla Hills National Park in about 15 days.

“The CDA and the ICT administration have identified 17 stone crushers operating inside the capital territory and the protected national park.

The chief commissioner office is now waiting for the go-ahead from the offices concerned, including the ministry of mines and minerals, to launch an operation,” CDA Member Environment Sanaullah Aman told the Senate sub-committee on human rights on Tuesday.

The sub-committee, under Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, was formed to investigate and present its findings on stone crushing in the area which were not just causing irreparable environment damage but also health problems for the local residents.

Mr Aman elaborated how the civic administration, which was unable to shut down the stone crushing activities in the past, had now got an upper hand.

Two meetings have been held in the office of the chief commissioner - the last one on January 29 - to discuss the removal of all the crushing machines, he added.

“We now have the Supreme Court directions issued in December 2013 to stop all the activities on the Margalla Hills that caused environmental degradation.

The apex court had also directed to prohibit any further activity to protect the natural environment of the Margalla Hills,” Mr Aman told the committee.

He also explained how the offices concerned, including the ICT administration, Iesco and the CDA, would start a joint operation starting with cutting power supply to the stone crushers.

In the past, however, the civic bodies also made several attempts to shut down quarrying on the hills.

Two years back, the civic bodies made similar promises to cut electricity supply to the stone crushers but failed to stop the quarrying.

Director environment CDA Mohammad Irshad told the meeting that though a cement plant was located outside the national park area it was carrying out quarrying activities in the protected area.

He said the CDA had already served a notice on the cement factory in the light of the Supreme Court orders to stop all the stone crushing activities.

The chairman of the sub-committee, Senator Mushahid Hussain, directed the CDA to present a report on the cement factory’s plans to install a coal-operated 15 megawatt power plant on its premises.

He wanted more details on how the cement factory was planning to install the power plant when the apex court had directed to stop all activities in the national park area and in Zone III where the factory was located.

Asif Shuja, the director general of the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-Epa) said the cement establishment had submitted an environment impact assessment report to his office for approval of the power plant.

The official of the cement factory will be giving a presentation on February 12. He said Pak-Epa would evaluate the environment impact of the power plant on the surrounding areas before issuing an approval.

According to another official of Pak-Epa, environmental costs have increased in the west of the federal capital and around the G.T. Road leading to Peshawar.

“The residents in the area are being particularly affected. Health problems have risen in the vicinity from stone crushing activities in the Margalla Hills,” the official told Dawn after the meeting.