ISLAMABAD, Sept 12: Speakers at a seminar on Monday said the New Murree Project would lead to undesirable ecological, social and economic consequences. Speaking at the seminar on New Murree Project- Implications and Prospects at the SDPI, environmentalist A.H. Abbasi explained the master plan of the project.
He said the Patriata forestland would be leased out leading to increased risk of flooding, and a catastrophe particularly to the forest ecosystem.
He said permanent loss of Patriata forest cover would lead to degraded watershed conditions, higher peak stream flows, loss of vegetation and higher stream temperatures with long-term adverse effects on water quality.
He said the new township had been planned without taking into consideration the integral interrelationship between forest ecosystem, hydrological role of forest, water resources and attributable hydrological benefits of forest preservation.
He said Murree was the birthplace of the environmental laws as in 1862 the first agreement for the preservation of the forest was made by the British regime. He said untreated water of old Murree was going to the dams and the government was paying no attention to it.
He said monsoon pattern had been disturbed by deforestation in Murree. He said 850 houses were going to be built in the area and it would pollute Charah stream.
Member Punjab Assembly Raja Shafqat Abbasi endorsed the views and appreciated the role of the SDPI for highlighting the issue.
The Act for New Murree Plan was passed in 2003 despite the opposition of the National Assembly standing committee. But the Punjab government supported the plan, as it will bring Rs40 billion foreign investment.