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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to submit an approved site plan for his 300-kanal estate in Banigala.

The court banned construction of any nature on the banks and bed of the Korang River, which feeds the Rawal Lake.

“We direct the whistleblower Imran Khan to submit an approved site plan of his building,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed while heading a three-judge bench.

The bench has taken suo motu notice based on a letter by Mr Khan inviting the court’s attention to unchecked and unplanned construction in Banigala, denuding due to tree felling on a large scale and the pollution of Rawal Lake due to sewage.

Read: BANI GALA: BUILT ON ILLEGALITIES

Represented by his counsel Babar Awan, Mr Khan had regretted that during the 15 years that he had lived in Banigala the botanical gardens on the Korang River side had been reduced almost by half because of encroachment and fast depletion of the area’s greenery and the construction of multi-storey commercial buildings.

All construction on banks, bed of Korang River banned

On May 10 last year, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had submitted a report to the apex court claiming that Mr Khan’s property was among the 122 buildings constructed illegally in Banigala.

The court on Tuesday ordered that housing societies developed on private land would not carry out further construction unless their societies and development plans were approved by the department concerned and the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA).

The order clearly stated that all future construction, even that of private builders, would only be carried out if the competent authority – in this case the CDA and the concerned union council – approve its site plan.

Meanwhile, an April 24, 2017, direction by the court which restricted utility supply departments from providing electricity and gas connections to properties that were not sanctioned by the competent authorities will continue.

A local MNA and Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Tariq Fazal Chaudhry told the court that he would set up a camp in Banigala to meet locals, listen to their grievances and ensure that solid and hospital waste did not pollute Rawal Dam.

The court also quashed last year’s imposition Section 144 by the district magistrate in view of allegations of harassment.

The court sought a list of leases granted by the local council and CDA in a week’s time, particularly those around the lake, and the concerned departments will also check commercial activities. The minister will also ensure that garbage dumps are immediately lifted from the area.

Pak-EPA Director General Farzana Altaf Shah presented a report through Additional Attorney General Nayyar Rizvi and regretted that not a single housing society in the area had sought the department’s approval, and none of them had provisions to cater to environmental concerns such as sewage treatment facilities, solid waste management plans or plantation schemes.

Meanwhile, in a report on the water quality in Rawal Dam, the EPA feared that samples collected from the points of entry of various streams confirmed a considerable amount of contamination entering the lake with high values of chemical oxygen demand, biochemical oxygen demand and low levels of dissolved oxygen.

The report showed that samples collected near One Constitution Avenue had extremely low levels of dissolved oxygen which was lethal for sensitive aquatic life. This point also had high levels of chemical and biochemical oxygen demand.

The report explained that fish were very sensitive to low dissolved oxygen levels and high temperatures, since the level of dissolved oxygen decreases further at high temperatures and can cause fish mortality.

The case will be taken up again on Feb 22.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018