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August 3, 2011

CSOs petition about uplift projects


August 3, 2011

PESHAWAR: A division bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the secretary environment and the director generals of Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a writ petition filed against cutting of trees and dismantling of the green belts along the Grand Trunk Road and other roads in the city.
Five organisations from the platform of the “Citizens for Clean Environment” had filed the writ petition in the high court. The organisations include Institute of Architects Pakistan, Peshawar chapter, Gandhara Hindko Board, De Las Gul, Kalash Environmental Protection Society and Sarhad Conservation Network.
Counsel for the organisations, S Haziq Ali Shah, submitted before a two-member bench comprising Justice Shah Jehan Khan and Justice Nisar Hussain Khan that the provincial government and Ministry of Environment had approved a plan for widening of the GT Road, Khyber Road and Jamrud Road. He said under the project hundreds of old trees and green belts like those outside the Islamia College would be cut for the construction of an extra lane for the buses.
He contended that 30 feet wide green belt of about 400 meters length and 40 feet width between the service road and southern edge of GT Road in Nishtarabad was being wiped out in front of old houses dating 1930s.
He said the construction of a flyover was started from near the main bus stand on GT Road to a point opposite the old Metro cinema, a distance of approximately a kilometre. “The GT Road side lane on which present traffic is going towards the city will hold the pillars of the flyover. Already, 300 trees on the service road have been cleared from the northern edge of the city,” he said.
The petitioners claimed that the remaining green belt would also be lost to the flyover pillars and the historic Nishtarabad green belt will be converted into a slip road for traffic coming from the Gulbahar Chowk.
They said Peshawar, once

known as the city of flowers and gardens, is being turned into the most polluted city where green belts, historic gardens and parks have become extinct due to the lopsided development projects.
It is pertinent to mention that the Nishtarabad old gardens having about 400 old trees were reduced to a narrow belt in the past three years. The petition noted that only 70 trees were remaining which would also be cut down under the PDA project.
The petitioners said that the most shocking aspect of the multi-mullion rupee projects was that neither Initial Environmental Assessment (IEA) nor Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the approximately 800-meter proposed flyover in the city and widening of the GT Road and Jamrud Road has been carried out even though it is mandatory under the Pakistan Environment Protection Act, 1997.
The petitioners also questioned the role of director general EPA and stated that being a regulatory authority the EPA lacks capacity for administrative work. They said not contacting IEA and EIA before preparing the plan was clear violation of its statutory status under PEPA 1997.
They said the project would destroy one of the largest green belts and open spaces in Peshawar that runs along both sides of the GT Road, Jamrud Road and University Road and deny the citizens from enjoying their fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution.

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