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No letup in illegal construction in Murree

Updated November 03, 2017

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Land being levelled to construct a road.
Land being levelled to construct a road.

MURREE: Illegal construction, deforestation and alleged encroachment continue in various areas of Murree tehsil in violation of Supreme Court’s order.

Supreme Court’s three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, on Oct 20 imposed a 20-day ban on all kinds of construction, including development projects and housing schemes, in the national park areas of Murree, Kotli Sattian and Kahuta, and asked the authorities concerned to present a comprehensive compliant report on next date of hearing on Nov 9.

The Punjab government through a notification issued on Sept 15, 2009 had declared the aforesaid areas as a national park under section 17 of the Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1974.

There is no letup in construction and leveling of land by housing societies along Expressway and Islamabad-Murree Kashmir highway.

Town Municipal Administration (TMA) had already declared these housing societies, set up in sheer violation of bylaw, illegal.

TMA has published a list of 30 such housing societies for the people to keep them from investing in them. But these housing societies had already denuded a vast area of forest land.

Even natural nullahs, water courses were encroached upon by a “big” housing society.

Though the Punjab government had already banned all kinds of construction in Murree Town before the ban from SC, big housing societies and other influential people continued construction.

When this correspondent contacted Assistant Commissioner Murree Arif Ullah Khan, he did not deny the construction in some areas by big and influential owners of housing societies.

Board installed by TMA to identify state land.
Board installed by TMA to identify state land.

He, however, said that his staff had raided registered cases against those found involved in illegal construction.

He said under new local government law the aforesaid areas were under the jurisdiction of District Council Rawalpindi but being the Assistant Commissioner of Murree Tehsil he was trying to implement the ban imposed by the SC.

While talking to this correspondent Divisional Forest Officer Murree Wajeehudeen Ahemad said that about 12,384 kanals forest land was encroached upon by housing societies and others in Murree Forest Division.

He said that all out efforts were being made to retrieve the land but the people who allegedly encroached upon the land had moved courts.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2017