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Dawn

Published Date: Jun 9, 2013

Encroachments around Korang River hazardous to environment

Environment
experts at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) have shown concern
over the encroachments in Korang River bed, which are posing serious threat to
environment and potable water availability in Rawal Dam.

Senior
Environmental Researcher Kanwar Muhammad Javed Iqbal said that there are
numerous residential and commercial constructions underway in Korang River Bed
and Rawal Lake catchments area near Shahpur, Mauza Phulgaran, Islamabad but the
concerned authorities have turned a blind eye to this ecological disaster.

Commenting
on the relevant laws, Mr Iqbal referred to Initial Environmental Examination
Regulation 2000 under Section 12 of Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997
which clearly states that protective measures should be taken in ecological
sensitive areas.

Pointing
specifically toward recent developments, he highlighted that encroachment
through extension in existing constructions and new commercial projects like
construction of a five storey building whose initial excavation and foundation
work has been completed inside the river bed. He said “these encroachments are
not only altering the natural habitat of the Korang River, but will also
pollute the Korang River, which is a source of potable water for millions of
people in Rawalpindi.”

He
further highlighted the ‘CDA Zoning Regulation 2005’, which provides clear
guideline for ‘un-acquired areas’ in its section (h) of B on page-8. According
to him, the zoning regulation notes that “construction of houses and expansion
of settlements shall not be allowed in areas adjoining water bodies, lakes and
reservoirs. The extent of such areas shall only be determined after proper
hydrological survey.”

He
informed that SDPI team has visited the area and confirmed gross encroachments
in the area. He added that these illegal encroachment and construction puts
serious threat not only to sensitive ecological area of Korang River but spread
waterborne diseases in twin cities.

The
citizens of the area have also lodged a written complaint to Environmental
Protection Agency (PAK- EPA) to look into the matter and stop these
constructions. “We will not tolerate and legally fight at every possible
level,” said the concerned citizens while assuring their resolve to protect
their environment.