Now large parts of the deeply forested Shakarparian are being parceled off for hair-brained schemes that will lead to further deforestation of Islamabad and destroy its biodiversity. Shakarparian constitutes 1376 hectors of forested area, but the CDA had converted a large chunk of it into a multi-purpose exhibition ground, which was later made into a parade ground. Not content with that, the CDA has parceled off 35 acres of Shakarparian’s forested land to the PCB to build a stadium, and only an NOC from the Ministry of Climate Change is awaited before construction begins. Ehsan Mani, the ex-Chairman of ICC, described this grandiose project of Rs. 2 billion as a “white elephant”, because there is a stadium at a distance of only 6 kilometers in Shamsabad. He argued at his press conference on the 11th of March, that other places like Faisalabad were more deserving of a cricket stadium as Islamabad does not have cricketers. The project also includes a five star hotel, when two already exist in Islamabad; one is being built behind the Marriott Hotel and a Hyatt is coming up as part of the 1 Constitution Avenue project.
The challenge to all environmentalists is further compounded by an announcement that a railway station is being planned next to the Rose and Jasmine Garden in Shakarparian for the Islamabad-Muzaffarabad railway track. If it is not shifted to another locale, this would ring a death knell for the national park. The I-9 station could be upgraded; alternatively, the planned station shifted to a more viable location such as the H-sector, off Kashmir Highway, or the Malpur area adjacent to Lakeview Park.
Shakarparian is protected by the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Conservation and Management) Ordinance of 1979, which has been formulated with a view, “to protecting and preserving scenery, flora and fauna in natural state”. This kind of construction and flouting of the laws protecting the Margalla Hills National Park is illegal and can be struck down anytime by the courts, as happened with the grid station in the F9 park. Islamabad is increasingly falling prey to developers in cahoots with the CDA, the most scandalous being the attempt to turn the NARC, our prestigious agricultural research facility, into a housing scheme. Luckily, the government was receptive to the outcry, and the scheme was shelved. Can anyone envision a cricket stadium or a railway station being built in either the Hyde or Regent’s Park?
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