Margalla tunnel madness

Published: September 19, 2013

Appalled citizens in Islamabad are also protesting, while no doubt considering the environmental destruction the building plan would entail.

Building roads, in a developing country like ours, is generally a good thing – but it can get out of hand. The obsession of the Sharifs with constructing highways is well-established. It can do good by linking the country, though perhaps more mundane works such as roads linking villages to main roads, would serve people better. However, the project to expand Islamabad by digging a tunnel through the Margalla Hills which look down over the capital and build a ‘new’ city beyond them, appears to be taking things too far.

As Senator Mushahid Hussain has pointed out, the project, work on which has already been ordered, violates laws barring construction in the Margalla Hills National Park, is a threat to the ecology and has been proceeded without seeking Planning Commission approval, obtaining a No-Objection Certificate from the Environmental Protection Agency or completing other required procedural steps. We can also assume boring a tunnel through a range of hills would be enormously expensive, and ask if there are not other spheres where the sums involved could be better spent. The haste with which the tunneling plan has been pushed through also raises eyebrows. Mushahid has asked the Supreme Court and the chief justice to take notice. Appalled citizens in Islamabad are also protesting, while no doubt considering the environmental destruction the building plan would entail. We must hope their voices will be heard. We have in many places in our country seen too much environmental damage in the name of development. The Margalla tunnel would simply add to this. It is hard to understand why it is being pushed forward at such speed, violating laid down regulations. Any work on the project must be stopped, an explanation given as to why it is deemed such a priority given that much else needs to be done and the Margalla Hills protected from being damaged in this fashion by the building of the road.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Majid
    Sep 20, 2013 - 12:29PM

    You are talking about ecology and we are fighting the war of survival! And BTW if making tunnels would have dad bad effect on ecology, Germany would been the most non-ecological country in the world. Come out of your glass houses plz.

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  • kamran
    Sep 20, 2013 - 4:12PM

    Sharifs are probably doing this for a few quick bucks. However, there is no need to expand Islamabad beyond the Margallas.

    If expansion needs to be done, it can easily be done south of Rawalpindi.

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  • Waseem
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:00PM

    @Majid:
    No sane planner would allow such type of madness.
    What are we leaving our children in nature what we inherited? I am afraid that after a generation, our kids will know this animal life only by picture books and animation movies.
    there will be time, when no bird, wild animal or herbs will be left.
    We have an obligation to share this country not only with the humans only, but the beautiful wild life, and rear plantation that we have got.

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  • Osman Khalid
    Sep 21, 2013 - 6:46AM

    Gen. Musharraf announced construction of Margalla tunnel, and Roedad Khan jumped and organized a protest march. The marchers were all well dressed and well fed with glittering faces, both male and female. Now it is Mushahid Hussain talking against the construction of Margalla tunnel. This tunnel will be useful for the people of Hazara, Northern area and Kashmir. People living in Islamabad have an elite mindset. There is a smell of luxurious and comfortable living in their talks. The comforts of life, they do not wish to share with their countrymen.

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  • Monet
    Sep 24, 2013 - 10:43AM

    This has nothing to do with an ‘elite mindset’. This has to do with the legacy we are going to leave behind for all the hundreds of generations that are going to come after us. Look up ‘web of life,’ -you are part of that web and you cannot put the importance of that web on a scale which measures things like ‘ survival’ ‘economic growth’ etc because if you destroy this web, you will have nothing left to put on the scale ultimately.
    To the Sharif brothers, as a citizen of Pakistan and residenet of Islamabad, I’d like to say this: I think you are doing amazing work for our country. You have a very difficult task at hand and I really appreciate all you are trying to do for us. Thank you. But at the same time, I grew up in Islamabad and I honestly believe that there is no city in the world quite so beautiful. When I see the silhouette of those Margalla hills, silhouettes that I know by heart, from an aeroplane, I know I am home. My city is my identity and looking at those hills every morning almost keeps me sane in a Pakistan which has become crazy. The Margalla Hills are our home, we have known them our whole lives. Please don’t take our home away from us.

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