The Pakistan-Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has issued legal notice to the Capital Development Authority on Thursday for launching work on the expansion of signal-free Islamabad Expressway without getting a no objection certificate from the EPA or conducting any study to assess environmental impact of the multiple-billion rupee project.
“Earlier, the Pak-EPA had issued an advisory note to the CDA after learning from advertisements published in newspapers regarding expansion project of the Islamabad Expressway couple of months ago, in which the civic agency was advised to get an environmental-impact assessment (EIA) report from a reputable firm,” the Pak-EPA Director-General, Dr Khurshid Khan told The Express Tribune.
He said that the CDA did not pay any heed to the advisory note and had started work on the expansion project by cutting trees along the Islamabad Expressway illegally.
The EPA director-general said that the CDA did not seek NOC from the environmental agency nor it submitted any EIA report for the said project which was mandatory before embarking on a construction activity.
Dr Khan said that carrying out an environmental-impact study was mandatory before embarking on any mega project but the CDA did not bother and had violated the rules. He said that this not only become a source of nuisance and environmental degradation but also create other complex health-related issues for the people.
He added that earlier in case of construction of the metro bus project, the CDA did not carry out proper environmental-impact assessment and the EPA had to issue environmental protection order (EPO) to the civic agency for carrying out an EIA study.
In the past, during construction of the metro bus project the CDA had to face various cases in courts, where the civic agency was admonished by courts for its careless behaviour towards construction activities without following due course.
“Large trees are being cut, while some young and small trees are being rooted out to re-plant them at some other location, but until monsoon season starts with full swing the re-plantation drive will turn futile because most of these trees will die,” another EPA official who asked not to be named expressed his apprehensions.
City managers have initiated work on the widening of the Islamabad Expressway since July 1, which will be completed in three phases. The first phase includes the rehabilitation and expansion of existing roadway from Zero Point to Faizabad, along with the construction of an interchange at I-8 intersection. Four lanes will be added on either side of the existing 10-lane highway from Zero point to Faizabad.
In the second phase, work will be done between Faizabad and Koral Chowk, while in the third phase work will be initiated from Koral Chowk to Rawat.
Last Friday, the CDA had opened tenders for construction work on the first phase at an estimated cost of Rs2 billion and Maksons Constructions had won the contract, as it had filed the lowest bid of Rs1.6 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.
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