GDA gets notice over closure of Ayubia chairlift

Elevator shutdown also affects businesses in the area


Zubair Ayub/Ateeq Abbasi October 05, 2021

ABBOTTABAD:

A civil judge in Abbottabad on Monday issued a contempt notice to the Galliyat Development Authority (GDA) for closing down the Ayubia chairlift in violation of a stay order.

Civil Judge-1 Abbottabad Shahid Zaman on a contempt petition filed by Mohammad Ayaz Khan, a contractor of the Ayubia chairlift, issued notices to respondents and directed the bailiff to visit the chairlift site, inspect it in person and submit a detailed report at the next hearing.

Earlier, the court had granted the stay order in the chairlift case, but the GDA on Friday suspended the chairlift operation declaring it dangerous for public use. The court issued notice to the respondents including the GDA director-general and asked to comply with the stay order. The court sought replies from respondents on October 20.

Meanwhile, GDA spokesperson Ahsan Hameed said that the chairlift was declared extremely dangerous by WPL international firm in 2019. He said that the operation of the chairlift has been closed after the incident happened a few days back.

Read ‘Risky’ Ayubia chairlift suspends operations

The GDA in a letter to Abbottabad District Police Officer asked to register a case against the existing contractor Ayubia chairlift, officials of Galliyat Tahafuz Movement and several others for what it said entering the premises of the chairlift, forcibly opening the doors, threatening GDA technical staff and instigated the locals against the authority.

The GDA in its letter has also asked the DPO to also register a case against a 12-year-old boy, accusing him of uploading false news on social media. Businesses affected Meanwhile, the closure of the chairlift has affected businessmen running shops and eateries, who depended on tourists to earn their living. The chairlift, on a spur in thick alpine forests, was installed in the 1960s at Ghora Daka.

Having a length of one and a half kilometres, the manually operated chairlift comprised of 55 two-seater units and attracted tourists of all ages and income groups from across the country. In the winter, the chairlift hovered over a beautiful white blanket covering the hills beneath, picnickers from all over the country flock to Ayubia for the splendid view.

Initially, the chairlift was operated by the Hazara Hill Tract Improvement Trust under the provincial government before it was handed over to the GDA. Ayubia was also declared as a national park in 1984 by the wildlife department with the objective of preserving the scenic beauty of the area, promoting research in the natural environment and creating awareness among people about wildlife and plants.

Ziafat Satti, a local politician, was of the view that the hill station gave a spectacular view in summer and had its own charm, but the snowy view in the winter was simply magical and matchless.

Read more GDA expects Rs2.5b annual revenue in next two years

However, now it will lose the charm because of the closure of the country’s oldest chairlift. “The lives and livelihood of local inhabitants are being severely affected after its closure as this was the only source of earning for them who, through the business of hotels, restaurants and pushcarts, make a living,” he added.

Amna Sardar, a former lawmaker and social activist from Galiyat, said that Ayubia was a historic resort having temperate coniferous forests and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests and ecoregion habitat, with an average elevation of 8,000 feet above the sea level. She said that the chairlift was a major tourist attraction and a source of income for many families, which should be fixed immediately.

She said that for Pakistan and especially for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, tourism can be a massive source of earning as we possess top-class tourist attractions. GDA Director-General Raza Ali Habib said that they were planning to install a new chairlift and different proposals were under consideration. He said that work on a new Australian-designed elevator from Ayubia to Dunga Galli will be started soon.

The ‘Manal Group’ has now been selected for running the new chairlift and once it was operational, the authority will get an annual revenue of Rs940 million from the lift, he said adding that this will usher in a new era of development in the region.

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