ISLAMABAD: A larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday banned all kinds of construction activity in the scenic Banigala suburb, a major Rawal Lake catchment area.

While hearing a petition filed by Shahazada Sikandarul Mulk against the construction of the commercial building on a busy road in Banigala, justices Athar Minallah, Aamer Farooq and Mohsin Akhtar Kayani banned construction in the entire area.

The petitioner contended that constructing the commercial building would be hazardous to the locality’s environment.

During the hearing, Kashif Ali Malik – the counsel for the Capital Development Authority (CDA) – told the court the petitioner’s own property is not legal, because its building layout plan was not approved by the authority.

CDA tells court Rawal Lake and Banigala are included in national park area

When the court pronounced the other, the owner of the building in question pointed out identical construction in the area, and subsequently the court halted all construction activity.

In detailed comments filed by Mr Malik before the bench, he informed the court of steps taken by the CDA to preserve Banigala’s environment.

According to the CDA’s comments, “Rawal Lake with its surrounding area along with Bani Gala was included in National Park by the Federal Government through a notification on April 27, 1980”.

The CDA also said Rawal Lake, with an area of two kilometres from the highest water mark, was also made a part of the Margalla Hills National Park. According to the 1992 Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Zoning Regulations, no building can be constructed in Zone III and the Margalla Hills National Park.

The CDA claimed that construction in the Rawal Lake area violates the 1960 Pakistan Capital Regulation, adding that landowners were warned through repeated notices to refrain from raising construction in the area.

The authority told the IHC that, in compliance with an earlier judgment passed by the Supreme Court regarding construction activity in Banigala, the district magistrate issued a notification under section 144 of the CrPC prohibiting all illegal construction, sale and purchase, the felling of trees and the destruction of natural beauty.

The CDA added that on March 14, its member planning asked the ICT deputy commissioner to impose section 144 on illegal construction and restrict registration deeds within ICT limits.

The same day, the CDA also wrote to the general manager of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines asking for a ban on the provision of Sui Gas connections to residential and commercial buildings within ICT limits without prior issuance of a no-objection certificate from the CDA.

The IHC will take up the case again on May 18. The court has also directed the CDA to enforce its bylaws in Banigala.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2017