ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body on Friday was informed that while the district administration has issued Section 144 to control activities that destroy the environment in Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP), efforts are underway to modify rules after which the violators would be fined.

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) informed the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change, which met to discuss the management and protection of MHNP, that warnings had been sent to local councillors and restaurants within the park against destructive activities in the protected area.

The committee also discussed issues related to Faisal Mosque’s maintenance and cleanliness and was briefed about ownership of the park.

The members were told that Punjab government had leased the land to Capital Development Authority (CDA) for management purposes and the park’s boundary demarcation was another persistent issue.

The biggest problem is that CDA works in silos which is why issues persist.

Nonetheless, according to the board, there are major plans underway including construction of an education and awareness centre at the Islamabad zoo.

The committee, while lauding efforts of the board, directed implementation of these plans at the earliest.

Deliberating upon the management and protection of MHNP, and the challenges that it faced, the members observed that more than 100 clean up drives were organised along different trails in the protected area from March 2016 to Feb 2020.

Tonnes of litter and garbage was removed and the park has now been declared plastic-free, said officials of the board.

“Warnings have been sent to local councillors and restaurants within the park,” an IWMB official said.

Committee members expressed displeasure over lack of cleanliness at Faisal Mosque despite presence of janitorial staff therein.

The lawmakers said the mosque’s management must devise a proper mechanism to ensure cleanliness and stressed the need for stringent supervision of matters, adding the blame game must end and all parties must take responsibility for smooth functioning of affairs.

Committee Chairperson Senator Sitara Ayaz directed Dawa Academy — the mosque’s custodian — along with its management and the CDA to jointly work towards resolving all issues at the earliest.

She stressed the need for ownership and said this issue had been tabled numerous times and must not be brought to the committee again.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2021

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