ISLAMABAD: To protect government land from being encroached, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has approved a Rs109 million project to build a boundary wall around the zoo and botanical gardens in Islamabad.
The garden is located in Bani Gala, around 15 Km north-east of Islamabad.
“The CDWP in principally has approved [the project] but has asked the Minister of Climate Change (MOCC) to rationalise the cost of the project,” MOCC Forest Deputy Inspector General Munaf Qaimkhani told The Express Tribune.
He added that a team from the Survey of Pakistan had demarcated the boundary of Zoo-cum Botanical Garden in the Bani Gala Hills in the presence of representatives from the Zoological Survey of Pakistan, MOCC and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration on April 12, 2017.
During the survey, the location of all boundary pillars had been identified while the total area for the garden was determined to be 725 acres.
According to documents for the wall, it is being built to ensure that state land is protected from land grabbers.
The total running length of the boundary wall – to be built in the most vulnerable areas – is estimated to be 12 kilometres.
Despite the fact that land for the garden had been demarcated, encroachment still existed on the land which comprises a long ridge stretching between Simly Dam Road and Bani Gala.
However, these are expected to be removed by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) once work on the boundary wall starts, officials said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while considering a summary submitted by the MOCC on February 15, 2017, had directed the ministry to carefully demarcate the land earmarked for the project along with the CDA, ICT Administration and Survey of Pakistan.
Subsequently, after the survey, a PC-1 for the construction of the boundary wall was prepared with an estimated cost of Rs109.42 million.
The project is expected to be financed during the ongoing financial year and funds for it have already be allocated under the Green Pakistan Programme. Any shortfalls in funding are expected to be met through savings from the PSDP 2016-17.
The development of a zoo-cum-botanical garden had been incorporated in Islamabad’s Master Plan of1968. Subsequently, land measuring 583 acres had been allocated to the Zoological Survey of Pakistan
in Bani Gala on behalf of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Cooperatives (converted to Ministry of Climate Change in January 1989).
However, the ownership of land was retained by the CDA. In 2002 demarcation process for the land was initiated. A 2003 survey erected 160 boundary pillars over 725 acres of land by Survey of Pakistan. Subsequently, in 2006-07, work on fencing the demarcated areas started.
However, in July 2016, it was observed that two builders had started development work on the demarcated land. This prompted the government to look at raising a boundary wall on the site.
The project construction of boundary wall will help in the protection of the land allocated for the Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden which in turn ensure conservation of biodiversity, research, education and provide recreational opportunities for the masses of capital city Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2017.