CDA Spokesperson Asif Shah said the CDA’s anti-encroachment drive was underway for the past two months that helped retrieve hundreds of acres of land.
The rapidly growing encroachments across the Korang Nullah in Bhara Kahu on the main Simli Dam Road are becoming a potential risk of urban flooding in the area amid inclement weather in the future and have raised the frowns of the federal capital authorities.
The locals of the area claim that the embankments of Korang Nullah in the area remained vacant as green belts for years whereas in the past two decades amid gradual progress the space was being encroached upon by the ‘Qabza Mafia’.
Sidra Batool, a young journalist from the area told that she was a native of Bhara Kahu and knew the impacted area very well. “The authorities concerned are allegedly hesitant or ignorant of the encroachments done by the occupants as the latter intruded into the right of way of the natural watercourse but are claiming it as their ancestral property,” she added.
Batool underlined that the former chief justice of Islamabad High Court Justice Athar Minallah had categorically ruled in his verdict to ensure unimpeded water flow of water channels across the capital to avert any future disaster of urban flooding.
Ahmed Mumtaz, a local resident claimed that the road passing by Korang River was expanded through the land expansion to elevate the route which was later utilized by the encroachers to construct houses which was earlier a green area.
Mumtaz demanded that the capital territory authorities had to ensure across-the-board enforcement of the law to protect the natural water channel.
When contacted member estate CDA Afnan Alam Khan informed that the matter was earlier under the jurisdiction of the Member Estate which was later shifted to the Planning Wing as per the directions of the CDA Chairman.
“However, action will be taken as per the law whereas the matter has been shifted to the planning wing as the Chairman CDA wanted all matters related to enforcement under the Planning Wing which is responsible for the action.”
The member planning CDA was out of town hence unavailable for his version. However, CDA Spokesperson Asif Shah said the CDA’s anti-encroachment drive was underway for the past two months that helped retrieve hundreds of acres of land.
Moreover, the issue of Korang River was already under the notice of the Authority and its Planning Wing was preparing for stringent action to clean the nullah of encroachments.
Commenting on the action modalities, he said notices would be served to the parties involved in building settlements along the Nullah whereas makeshift infrastructure would be raised at once.
Deputy Director, Legal and Enforcement, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), Aamir Abbas Khan said the encroachment around Korang Nullah was mainly dealt with by the CDA and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration as per the law.
However, the situation was very critical as the recurring nature of erratic monsoon rains in the region had increased the risk of urban flooding due to the shrinking of the right of way of the natural water channel, he added.
Khan added that the encroachment against a human’s place was easy while in the case of nature, it had serious repercussions of unmanageable magnitude.
“The example of the E-11 incident in the recent past clearly underscores the need to protect the embankments of drains, springs, and nullahs passing naturally through the city to circumvent any possible risk of urban flooding in the future,” he said.
The CDA and MCI as per the existing rules and due to the absence of any local body system bore the responsibility to report the government on flood management preemptive measures, the EPA official said.
Assistant Commissioner, ICT Aneel Saeed said the former Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court Justice Athar Minallah in the light of his judgment ordered the formulation of an environment protection commission comprising of Secretary Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), DG Pka-EPA, and others which was a high-level body mandated to ensure the protection of Korang Nullah and environment in general.
He informed that he had visited the reported site and inspected the masses (alleged encroachers) to provide a record of their construction along the Nullah and they reportedly claimed it as their inherited land. “Upon which, I directed the CDA and others to provide land record and demarcation report of the area land for thorough probe on the matter.”
The ICT Administration also sealed a glass factory run by Haji Farman who had encroached upon the land of an aggrieved party.
“The factory was also dumping its waste into the nullah which was causing pollution. The owner was not found on the site whereas the manager of the unit was arrested.” The Assistant Commissioner assured that action was being taken against the culprit whereas the land was handed over to the aggrieved party.