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Imran Khan to answer CDA about his 300 kanal estate

11 May, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s answer to the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) claim that his 300 kanal estate to be one of 122 buildings raised illegally in the Banigala area.

An SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also asked the CDA and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to submit comprehensive data on the allotment of land at the banks of Rawal Lake during the last 20 years. The court wondered why the administration and police had failed to act against illegal buildings when they were being constructed.

“Let the CDA and ICT apprise the court about laws which were prevalent at the time when different structures were being made in the area which according to them were unauthorised,” the court observed, and also sought the CDA’s response about the regularisation of legal and illegal constructions in the area.

The court also sought assistance from Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf in helping the court understand the Islamabad zoning laws as well as the boundary of the Botanical Garden, and observed that building bylaws should be enforced throughout the capital.

In a fresh report before the SC, the CDA has asserted that 122 illegal or unauthorised buildings are either under construction or have been completed, in violation of the ICT Zoning Regulations, and are thus required to be demolished.

The report also highlighted that Mr Khan’s residents was on the list of 122 illegal constructions.

The SC was hearing a case related to high levels of encroachment on the Botanical Garden and unplanned and unregistered plazas in the Banigala area. The court took suo motu notice of the case based on a letter by Mr Khan himself, inviting the court’s attention towards unchecked and unplanned construction in the Banigala area, massive denuding due to large-scale tree felling and the pollution of Rawal Lake by sewerage.

In his letter, Mr Khan had criticised the unplanned and unregulated buildings cropping up in Banigala with no sewerage or waste disposal systems in place. If left unchecked, the refuse from these buildings would find its way in Rawal Lake, which stores drinking water for Rawalpindi residents.

During the proceedings, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the court could not order the demolition of all 122 constructions and, since the law should treat everyone equally, pulling down one residence could not be ordered.

Babar Awan, the counsel for Mr Khan, also asked on Wednesday why the CDA report reached the media beforehand, describing the matter as a “breach of confidentiality”.

The court also asked the administration to inform the court on the measures needed to enforce a sewerage and refuse collection system in the area.

Zafar Ali Shah, representing 12 Banigala residents, moved an application during the proceedings to become party in the matter, highlighting the prohibition on the construction of any infrastructure within a two kilometre radius of Rawal Lake, including the national park and Botanical Garden area where illegal constructions have been raised.

The counsel argued that the 2km area also encompasses buildings such as the Supreme Court, Prime Minister’s Secretariat and Convention Centre, and criticised CDA officials for accepting bribes before granting permission for construction in the prohibited area.

Referring to the CDA report, the counsel regretted that such illegal constructions were built after greasing the palms of CDA officials.

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