SC told commercial construction continues in Murree’s forests

Apex court fears development may be an environmental hazard

Abid Ali April 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: If permission is granted to a private housing scheme to build in a forest, how can locals then be asked not to do the same and preserve the environment?

This question was raised by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, as it heard a contempt of court case over the felling of trees and unauthorized commercial construction in Murree.

Aitzaz Ahsan, while representing a joint-land scheme, stated that land for the housing society had been purchased from locals. He argued that the law cannot hinder the change in the status of the joint-land scheme.

Ahsan went on to state that 4,000 trees had been affected by the housing schemes. However, he contended that the damage had been ‘repaired’ after the housing scheme planted 20,000 trees in its stead. Hence, the lawyer argued that the housing scheme was not affecting the environment or violating the court’s decision.

Thus the contempt of court plea should be rejected.

Justice Faisal Arab said that a full-court had barred that the current state of land in Murree, Kotli Satiyan and Kahuta from being changed.

Upon this, Ahsan contended that construction for commercial purposes is still taking place.

He added that three judges cannot change the decision of the full court. However, they can elaborate on the verdict and provide a guideline. He further added that a review petition against the full court’s decision had been filed and was being processed.

The lawyer elaborated how the land was mutually held property, and that the owners of the housing scheme had not pressurised anyone into handing over their land.

Due to the shift in ownership, the new owner is responsible for changing the status of the land.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2018. 


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