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August 25, 2018

Restoring sanctity of Zone-IV


August 25, 2018

Islamabad: Bharakahu once a conglomeration of a few abodes now consists of a large population. The way Zone-4 in the Master Plan of the Federal Metropolis , located between Murree Road and Islamabad Expressway ,had been shattered, is unprecedented.

It was supposed to be a food-basket for the citizens of Islamabad. Thus, the areas of Chak Shehzad, Poona Faqeeran and Tarlai were earmarked for CDA Farm Scheme where farms of 20 kanal could have a ground floor farm house also. Later, basement and first floor were also allowed. The rest of the area in each farm was meant for fruits, vegetables, cattle, and crops. The plots were allotted initially at random and then through auction on 30 years lease.

Later, out of pressure, the Gawala Colony was converted into Rawal Town and Poonan Faqeeran as Margalla Town Model Villages aka Bari Imam, Saidpur and Golra. After a few decades, Park Enclave, Bahria Enclave Park View City, Gulberg and Naval Anchorage etc. all just housing schemes, also erupted though these were on private land. Some other schemes like Pakistan Navy Farm also sprouted but some agriculture was still there.

The Chak Shehzad Scheme is a mixture of agriculture farms and luxury spots where flowers, lawns and ornamental trees could be seen at large. What happened to the schemers of the city is anybody’s guess. The land mafia is encroaching upon green pastures, hills and fields, replacing whatever green left with abundance of concrete and iron.

It is not only damaging the beauty of the capital but also affecting its environment. The amount of rainfall has reduced and the zone is contributing its share howsoever small to Climate Change.

The problem is that CDA ignores any violation and wakes up only when substantial portion of a building or project had already been built like Constitution-One. The Supreme Court has to intervene to bring the civic body out of slumber and CDA starts closing guest houses, offices and schools in residential areas on the orders from the Apex Court. Still, it could not touch many safe houses in residential areas being run by untouchables.

Many private land areas in Zone-4 continue to be in the process of being converted from farm to mini housing schemes but CDA will only awake when nothing could be done due to political pressure of local chieftains and representatives of the people living there or having stakes. At best the CDA could do at this belated stage is to demolish investment running into millions of rupees which is another social and political problem. Perhaps it does not realize that a stich in time saves nine.

Numerous illegal medical colleges, madrassas are operating in the Islamabad Capital Territory but there is no check. Some years ago, Bharakahu was described by some newspapers as mini-Afghanistan owing to non-conforming use and illegal abodes.

Should one pin hope in CDA to respect green sanctity of Zone-4? Or some activist groups like Reclaim Green Islamabad, a pressure group of environmentally cautious citizens, which successfully thwarted some attempts of CDA to deprive the city of beautiful trees in the name of development and building roads through activism, come forward and locally act like Greenpeace in international arena?

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