RAWALPINDI, Sept 20: City managers of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have agreed to reconcile their rival claims on the land commanded by the Rawal Dam and to demarcate their respective territories.

Rawalpindis District Coordination Officer Saqib Zafar told Dawn on Tuesday that the two sides were keen to end their 49-year-old dispute over the land to save it from land grabbers active in the area and stop the pollution growing urbanization was causing to the dam.

Relevant departments of the district administration, including the Small Dams Organisation and the Water and Sanitation Agency, have been directed to set a date with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) of Islamabad for negotiating the settlement and demarcation.

Ownership disputes between the twin cities have been persisting since 1962 when the dam came up in the area after President Ayub Khan decided to build the brand new capital of Islamabad.

Although the boundaries of the new federal capital were defined at the time, the Punjab government reportedly “acquired” 1,149 acres of land in seven villages – Sumbal, Mora Noor, Korakh, Bhangrial, Lakhwal, Tal and Malpur  – to keep its foot in the dam area.

CDA however did not agree to that, arguing that the dam being located in the federal capital territory the area it commanded belonged to CDA.

Their prolonged dispute provided property developers and lone sharks the opportunity to surreptitiously buy and sell land and launch housing societies in the area.

“We want to flush out encroachers and land grabbers from the area but before that we (the administrations of the two cities) need to clearly define our territories,” said DCO Zafar.His colleague, District Environment Officer Shaukat Hayat, has warned that the widespread unplanned construction activities in the vicinity of Rawal Dam were increasingly polluting its water.

That poses “a serious threat” to over 1.2 million people of Rawalpindi who get their drinking water from the dam, he said.

Besides, the fauna and flora in the catchment area are being ruined.

Many housing societies have been dragged to the Environment Tribunal of Punjab for causing ecological degradation but the cases have been pending for years, said Mr Hayat.