ISLAMABAD: The court of the senior special magistrate of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Monday sent the chief executive (CE) of Ghauri Town to jail for three years for environmental destruction.

Senior Special Magistrate Sardar Mohammad Asif also imposed a fine of Rs1.5 billion on the chief of Ghauri Town, Chaudhry Usman, and directed the management of the society to carry out tree plantation in the capital city worth Rs1 billion from the society’s account in lieu of the damage done to the environment.According to the CDA, the town management chopped off thousands of trees and also encroached on Korang River.

The magistrate announced the decision in the presence of the accused and then sent him to jail for three years.

The order said it had abundantly been cleared from the statements of the prosecution witnesses that the accused had been carrying out development works without obtaining permission from the CDA.

CDA magistrate asks society to plant trees worth Rs1bn in Islamabad

The judgment said the previous management of Ghauri Town led by Chaudhry Abdul Rehman and Raja Ali Akbar were equally responsible for carrying out illegal constructions and damaging the environment and were issued notices to explain their positions.

The judgment said many plot seekers also appeared before the court with the complaint that they had yet to get possession of plots in the society despite paying the dues.

“The prosecution has succeeded in establishing the case, therefore, the accused has been convicted and sentenced to three-year rigorous imprisonment under section 82 of the martial law regulations 1960, one year’s rigorous imprisonment under section 7 of environmental protection regulation 2008 and six months rigorous imprisonment under section 4/5 of the landscape ordinance,” read the judgment.

The court also directed that during the period of imprisonment of the chief executive, the society’s General Manager Abdul Rehman Butt would act as the acting chief executive/chairman of the housing society.

The magistrate said the court would also ensure that the affected people were given registry documents and possession of plots as soon as possible.

“Ghauri Town Management is directed not to carry out any kind of commercial or residential construction in future till the time the society is legalised,” the order said.

The court also directed to take appropriate action against the field workers and the officers of the CDA for their failure to stop the illegal work in society when it was started.

According to the prosecution, Chaudhry Usman had been accused of narrowing down Korang River while illegally developing the Phase 8 of the society.

The prosecution also found thousands of trees cut down during the development process of other phases of the project.

“This onslaught on the natural environment has caused losses which are estimated at about Rs2.5 to Rs3 billion. Despite being served numerous notices, the accused is still carrying out development work,” the order said.

“After presentation of the evidence, the statement of the accused was recorded under section 342 CrPC in which he denied causing a loss of Rs2.5 billion to Rs3 billion to the state. He insisted that the loss would not have gone beyond Rs500,000 to Rs1 million,” the order said.

Through his counsel, the accused said he became the chief executive of the society in May last year and the previous management of the society was responsible for any works carried out before May 2020. “Therefore, I humbly request the court to exonerate me from the case by imposing an amount of penalty which I could easily pay,” the accused pleaded.

However, CDA’s counsel argued that landscaping was damaged by the Ghori Town CE to maximise his profit by selling illegally occupied land next to the Korang River, which would result into urban flooding ultimately.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021

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