ISLAMABAD: The apex court on directed the top civil and civic administrative officials of the capital along with the top cricketing official of the country to appear before it tomorrow over the proposed construction of a cricket stadium in the Shakarparian area.
The court has also directed the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) to submit its report at its next hearing.
The decisions came as a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, heard the civil petition filed by the Margalla Hills National Park Society (MHNPS) President Roedad Khan against the construction of the cricket stadium in Shakarparian on Wednesday.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Roedad told the court that many buildings and institutions had been built in the forests of Shakarparian despite the fact that a Capital Development Authority (CDA) notification from 1980 put the area within the protected forest land of the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).
A counsel for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told the court that the board’s chairman was currently on a foreign tour.
Chief Justice Nisar directed CDA to stop cutting down trees to make way for the stadium.
Later, the court directed the chairmen of the CDA and the PCB and the secretary of the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to submit a report and adjourned the hearing until Friday. The bodies were also directed to present all records pertaining to the construction of the stadium.
At the last hearing of the case, the former federal interior secretary had told the court that the government wanted to build a five-star hotel and a cricket stadium in Shakarparian.
The court had removed the objections on Roedad’s constitutional petition and stayed the construction of stadium until it granted a decision in the case.
The CDA and the PCB had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2012 under which the CDA allotted 35 acres of land near Shakarparian for the PCB to build a 50,000-seat cricket stadium.
The project was supposed to be completed within a year, with 30 per cent of income from international matches and sponsorships to be pocketed by the CDA.
The remaining 70 per cent would go to the PCB. The project, though, fell through owing to the PCB’s financial woes.
Apart from building the stadium, the main cricketing body was also supposed to build a cricket academy, a five-star hotel, and other related facilities.
In 2016, as the PCB tried to bring international cricket back to Pakistan, it again applied for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Pak-EPA to build the project.
But the environmental body turned down the request, raising a host of objections to the project on its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.
The EIA report had shown that the project would cause environmental degradation in the form of loss of 450 to 500 fully grown trees, while vegetation and shrubs spread over 15 acres of forest land would be affected.
Moreover, the EIA report said that the project would also have an adverse bearing on the wildlife, fauna and flora in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2018.
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