The construction of a five-storey building in the bed of the Korang River is underway despite the fact that a notice had been issued to the builder to halt the work.
In the first week of June, residents of Shahpur and civil society representatives had filed a complaint with the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) against the construction of the five-storey housing unit in PTV Colony in Shahpur, Phulgaran, on the capital’s outskirts.
The under-construction building’s foundations were laid in the river bed which goes against the Capital Development Authority’s zoning regulations.
The construction could also affect the quality of drinking water derived from the river.
Pak-EPA Director-General Asif Shuja confirmed that a notice had been served on the builder but he said that because of procedural requirements, Pak-EPA cannot immediately stop the construction without first hearing the builder’s version.
He said a hearing will be conducted soon and if the builder failed to provide the environmental impact assessment report, he would be issued a fine.
Meanwhile, civil society activists and the area residents have expressed concern that construction activities on the part of influential builders had been ongoing despite Pak-EPA’s notices and reminders.
The residents said that a follow-up notice was also issued to the Islamabad chief commissioner to stop illegal constructions and ensure an environmental impact assessment study under section 12 of Pakistan Environment Protection Act (PEPA)1997, but it was also ignored.
Sustainable Development Policy Institute Senior Researcher Kanwar MJ Iqbal said the area’s revenue official (girdawar) has confirmed that the land of the five-storey building is part of the Korang River and the construction was in violation of the PEPA Act 1997 and the Capital Development Authority zoning regulations.
He said that violation of Pak-EPA order could be considered ‘contempt of court’. He said that the authorities should intervene immediately to stop the illegal construction.
Iqbal said that illegal constructions not only threaten sensitive ecology of the Korang River but also pollute the potable water derived from it, causing the spread of waterborne diseases.
Public interest litigation could be filed in the Supreme Court, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.