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Published Date: Jun 7, 2013

SDPI Press Release (June 7, 2013)

Lodging
strong protest over the encroachments in Korang River bed, the citizens have
appealed authorities to stop indiscriminate illegal constructions that are
posing serious threat to environment and potable water availability in Rawal
Dam.

“There
are numerous residential and commercial constructions underway in Korang River
Bed and Rawal Lake catchment area near Shahpur, Mauza Phulgaran, Islamabad but
the concerned authorities have turned a blind eye to this ecological disaster”
alleged the citizens and relevant  stakeholders here on Friday.

Pointing
specifically toward a recent and most damaging development, the residents
highlighted the encroachment through extension in existing constructions and
new commercial projects like construction of a 5 story building whose initial
excavation and foundation work has been completed inside the river bed. 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 and Islamabad.

Environmental
experts at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) have showed
reservations over the situation calling it a serious violation of Environmental
Act 1997 and other relevant ecological regulations of the country.

Commenting
on the relevant laws, Kanwar Muhammad JavedIqbal, Senior Environmental
Researcher at SDPI referred to IEE/EIA Regulation 2000 under Section 12 of
Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 which clearly states requirement of
EIA for new projects or extension works pertaining to ecological sensitive
areas.

He
further highlighted the ‘CDA Zoning Regulation 2005’, which according to him
provides clear guideline for ‘un-acquired areas’ in its section (h) of B on
page-8. According to him, the zoning regulation says that “No construction
of houses and expansion of settlements shall 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.