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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Jun 10, 2013

Questionable construction: Korang area residents protest river bed encroachment

Citizens
of the federal capital residing near the Korang River, on the eastern outskirts
of Islamabad, have lodged a protest against encroachments on the river bed.

They
claim that the illegal constructions defy  zoning regulations and pose a
threat to the environment and the availability of drinking water in Rawal Dam.

Residents
and environmental activists gathered at the Sustainable Development Policy
Institute (SDPI) office on Friday to appeal that the concerned authorities take
action against the alleged “indiscriminate” and “illegal” residential and
commercial constructions underway in the Korang River bed and the Rawal Lake
catchment area near Shahpur and Mauza Phulgran.

Residents
of Shahpur have also filed a complaint with the Pakistan Environment Protection
Agency (Pak-EPA) about the construction of a five-storey housing unit in the
Shahpur Pakistan Television colony. The foundations of the under-construction
building have been laid inside the river bed, residents claimed.

Environmentalists
at the gathering said such encroachments destroy the natural habitat near the
river and pollute the river, which feeds Rawal Lake — the primary source of
drinking water for Rawalpindi.

The
Pak-EPA has accepted the complaint and is expected to issue a notice to the
builders for an Environmental Impact Assessment, according to sources at the
agency.

Kanwar
Muhammad Javed Iqbal, a senior environment researcher at SDPI, said EIAs are a
legal requirement for all new projects, adding that according to CDA zoning
regulations, construction of houses is not allowed in areas adjoining water
bodies, lakes and reservoirs.