ISLAMABAD: The government has managed to retrieve possession of part of the Zoo-cum Botanical Gardens from the illegal occupation of land grabbers near Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence and handed it over to the Zoological Survey of Pakistan, an official said on Monday.
Following orders from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration retrieved around 2,323 kanals of land of the gardens.
“More than 2,000 kanals of land of the botanical garden was [illegally] occupied,” said Zoological Survey of Pakistan (ZSP) Director Altaf Hussain while visiting the site of the gardens on Monday.
“We faced some resistance from the occupiers when a project to build a wall around the garden had started during the tenure of the previous government,” he added.
Hussain further said that they had recovered 723 kanals of land in November 2018, after Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered the Ministry of Climate Change and the ICT administration to take measures to recover the land and submit a report to his office.
With the apex court also ordering to recover encroached land, the district administration had recovered the remaining 1,400 kanals of land from encroachers.
In July 2016, it had been observed that two builders had started development work on the demarcated land. This prompted the government to raise a 14 kilometre-long boundary wall around the 5,800 kanals (725 acres) of the gardens.
ZSP Director Hussain said that construction on the boundary wall had started in 2017. Thus far, he said they had built a wall measuring two feet in height along with pillars for 9km around the garden while work on the remaining 5km was underway.
Once the wall has been built and pillars built , fences will be put in the hilly areas and where walls are unfeasible.
Hussain said that the wall was supposed to have been completed by February 2019. However, the project had faced delays due to resistance from illegal occupants and the matter landing in courts.
The ZSP director said that the government had allocated some Rs900 million for the construction of a wall and fences along the boundary of the garden’s land in the development budget for the fiscal year 2018-19. The government had released around Rs15 million for this at the end of the last fiscal and had followed it up with a further Rs35.4 million during the first and second quarters of the current fiscal.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2019.