Hearing on illegal high-rises in Murree

Special tribunal will take up cases of constructions sans approval of maps

Syed Qaiser Shirazi September 27, 2022


A special environmental tribunal will hear cases regarding illegal structures and multi-storey buildings in Murree for two days.

A three-member special environmental panel led by retired high court judge Syed Iftikhar Hussain will take the cases for hearing in the court of assistant commissioner Murree on September 28 and September 29.

According to a report earlier submitted to the Rawalpindi district administration, there are a total of 1,522 multi-storey buildings in Murree and of them, 52 buildings were constructed illegally and without the approval of maps. According to the report, political figures and influential officers and their close relatives were owners of most of these buildings.

The report said that despite a ban, the construction of buildings without the approval of maps was still going on in Murree. Most of these buildings are said to be owned by senior bureaucrats, political personalities and elected representatives. The report was compiled after the Murree tragedy last year.

The Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench has reserved its verdict after completing the hearing of identical petitions highlighting a host of issues being faced by the hill station.

The report said that Murree has 4,200 parking points for tourists. Each parking area has the capacity for vehicles according to its size.

The special tribunal will hear a total of 56 cases. The tribunal will also hear cases involving factories causing pollution and multi-storey buildings built in restricted zones in Murree. Cases will also be heard against owners of several poultry farms, contaminating the environment and underground water.

Earlier, LHC judge Abdul Aziz observed that Murree's environment had been destroyed by some elements but the institutions concerned were unmoved.

The judge had said in his remarks that authorities and institutions were nowhere to be seen when the people were dying due to heavy snowfall in Murree.

The high court had lashed out at the Murree Development Authority for negligence, questioning the role of agencies when the roads of the hill station were blocked and thousands of people were stranded.

During the hearing, the lawyer said that according to the National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK), Rs1.5 billion was acquired for the construction of a parking plaza in Murree.

In response, Justice Aziz criticised the authorities, questioning where the allocated funds went. “When the contract for the parking plaza was confirmed and the funds allocated, it was all over. This money does not belong to the rich it belongs to the worker [labourer].”

The high court blamed the authorities for neglect adding that they have “eaten this country and are still not satisfied”. Justice Aziz also lambasted the department of forestation for the ongoing deforestation within the region.


Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2022.


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