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ISLAMABAD, April 12: The civic authority was in for a shock when the structure – illegally erected on national park territory in Banigala – it had demolished was rebuilt the same day by some locals claiming possession of the property.

In an anti-encroachment operation, the Capital Development Authority’s Enforcement Wing demolished a one-room guard post and broke a steel barrier built on a private road Monday morning in Mauza Mora Noor and Lakhwal, Banigala – it was declared national park area by the government through a notification in 1980.

However, some locals claiming to own the land rebuilt the one-room structure the same evening.

Zaheer Abbasi, who has political affiliations with PML-N, claimed that his family was the rightful owner of the land. Stretching nearly 348 kanals, the area had been in his family’s use since 1949, he said.

“The land is not CDA’s national park but it is registered in my brother’s name,” said Zaheer Abbasi adding that he was in the process of arranging all the necessary documents as evidence.

“We own the land and have possession too,” said Abbasi who claimed that once the documentation was complete, he would invite all – CDA, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration and the media – for its demarcation.

He had also erected a knee-high wall that is some 25 to 30 feet long. The barrier and the guard post came up in the last two weeks. And the only two-room structure (property office) that sat on top of a small hill in national park territory also belonged to his family as per his claim.

Nonetheless, the Environment Wing of the CDA said when the water in the lake was at the highest level, the land stretching from the banks and beyond up to 2 kilometers (in Banigala) was all national park area.

“The said land in Mauza Mora Noor and Lakhwal is all CDA’s national park. Three green areas were declared national parks – the Margalla Hills, Shakarparian and Banigala – in 1980 through a notification under the Wild Life Ordinance 1979,” said Deputy Director General Environment Wing CDA, Malik Olya Khan. According to the wing’s record, the three segments were declared protected to restrict the urban sprawl and save the natural beauty of federal capital. However, a senior official in the CDA said no one knew how much the national park could have shrunk due to illegal encroachments. “This is probably happening from all sides, causing loss of habitat,” the official disclosed to Dawn.

It is the second time the authority has launched the drive in the location. This distinctive and serene land with hillocks, massive dark brown rocks and scattered shrubberies is roughly five minutes drive to the right of Banigala’s main road behind a few residential plots.