Atmospheric accountability: Environmentalists question developments near Rawal Dam

Construction of road, restaurant could be detrimental to water quality.

Danish Hussain December 30, 2013
A file photo of a dam. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Ignoring the reservations of environmentalists and overlooking real material needs such as adequate supply of potable water, affordable housing and development of the capital, city managers continue to plan recreational ventures in the proximity of Rawal Dam.

In a recent development, the Punjab Government Small Dams Department has granted a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for the construction of a road and a restaurant along the reservoir’s bank.

The recreational project involves the construction of the two-kilometre long Corniche Road along the south side of Rawal Dam, and a restaurant with an on-site parking lot at the road’s endpoint.

When The Express Tribune contacted CDA Planning Member Waseem Ahmed Khan, he confirmed the development, saying that the Small Dams Department, which owns the land for the intended project, had granted an NOC to the CDA.

“The project was initiated by former CDA chairman Nadeem Hassan Asif on the directions of a political bigwig from Punjab who is affiliated with the ruling party,” according to an official at the planning wing of the authority who requested anonymity.

Not accounting for the adverse impacts on the quality of water being supplied from the reservoir to Rawalpindi, the authority is working on the project on a fast track basis, he added.

“After obtaining the NOC, the planning wing’s land survey department completed the land survey and submitted its report with the planning wing chief. Now, the project is at an advanced planning stage,” the official said. He also informed that upon completion of the project’s planning and design, it will be handed over to the Engineering Wing for execution.

The official, who was well-aware of the project’s details, said that the 25-foot wide road will commence from the area adjacent to the navy camp at Rawal Dam facing Murree Road and culminate in the area across Islamabad Club, where a restaurant is to be constructed on the dam’s bank.

A report of the Environment Ministry states that Rawal Lake has been subjected to pollution from a number of sources including recreational facilities, human settlements, poultry waste, recreational activities, agricultural activities, deforestation, erosion and sedimentation for the past few years.

During hearings of the Rawal Dam contamination case at the Supreme Court in 2011, environmentalists had briefly informed the court about how recreational facilities developed at Lake View Park had added to the water reservoir’s contamination.

Dr Jawad Chishti, an environmentalist, expressed his displeasure over the issuance of NOC for the project by the Small Dam department. “Pakistan is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The Punjab government committed a grave violation of that agreement by issuing the NOC,” said Chishti.

He added that under the garb of recreational facilities, the civic body was serving the commercial interests of some powerful private parties.

When the CDA planning member was asked about the project’s progress, he said that the new chairman of the authority will be briefed about the intricacies within the upcoming days, and a future course of action shall be decided in line with his directions.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2013.


Dr.A.K.Tewari | 9 years ago | Reply

Pakistan is not compliant enough to conduct required EIA of different projects . Therefore financial assistance for these project should be strictly scrutinized to save the environment of south Asia .

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