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Cabinet to decide fate of Bani Gala project

April 09, 2004

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ISLAMABAD, April 8: The federal cabinet will decide the fate of controversial residential locality in Bani Gala, which became famous after father of the country's nuclear programme, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan , built his house there, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Kamran Lashari told Dawn on Thursday.

He said a meeting presided over by interior secretary Tasneem Noorani decided that the matter regarding all 'unauthorized' constructions near Rawal Lake, including Bani Gala, would shortly be sent to the cabinet. "Now, it would be up to the cabinet whether it regularizes these localities or not," he said.

The CDA chairman said these localities were constructed on private land without permission. The residential area of Bani Gala had remained controversial since its establishment as a clash had also taken place between local administration and the residents of the area at the time of its establishment, which claimed the lives of two people.

A source in the CDA said after the construction of Dr Khan house in the area, the issue of 'illegality' of the locality had been sidelined and the CDA dared not to take any action against the locality.

The source said since Dr Khan was already in crisis after confessing that he transferred nuclear technology to some other countries, the local administration and the CDA had stretched their muscles to take action against all unauthorized constructions beside the Rawal Lake under the pretext of controlling pollution in the water reservoir.

The meeting decided to ban commercial fishing in the lake immediately. The meeting was told that Rawal Lake water was being polluted because of many factors including construction activity in the nearby areas, commercial fishing and sewage discharge of Bani Gala and other nearby villages into it.

The measures that can be taken to check the sewage and poultry farm waste flowing into the lake were examined in detail. It was decided that people living in these areas should be educated about water contamination and encouraged to build septic tanks in their houses.

The CDA was asked to launch a media campaign for creating awareness through billboards, stickers and posters. Water treatment plants will also be set up to treat the liquid waste before letting it enter the lake.

The director-general of the Environment Protection Agency has been asked to authorize environment inspectors to report violations of Environment Protection Act in these areas. An inspection committee has been formed under CDA member planning, consisting of ten environment inspectors to be given by Rawalpindi Development Authority. The committee will present its report within 90 days.

In Chattar Park, public toilets and septic tanks will be constructed to prevent effluent from entering the water channel leading to the lake. For the disposal of solid waste, a proper mechanism will soon be devised.