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Sunday December 05, 2021

Ten booked for illegal construction in Haripur forests

August 24, 2021

ABBOTTABAD: The district administration has banned all types of construction activities in Makhnyal Guzara Forests in Haripur district, besides registration of first information reports (FIRs) against 10 persons allegedly involved in illegal construction.

Deputy Commissioner Mugees Sanaullah, when contacted, said that all illegal construction has been stopped in Makhnial while imposing a ban under section-144. The official confirmed the registration of FIRs. He said the constructions, which were already approved by TMA Khanpur, would also be verified by Galiyat Development Authority within two weeks.

Replying to a query, he said that all those influential people who had purchased land in Guzara forest area, were not entitled to construction.

It may be pointed out that Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had taken notice of illegal construction activities being carried out in Makhnyal forests area in Haripur and purchase as well as the sale of forested land for commercial purposes.

He had directed the quarters concerned to impose Section-144 to this effect, asking them to take strict action under Section-188 of Pakistan Penal Code against those who violated Section-144.

Earlier, an inquiry committee was constituted on the directives of Chief Secretary Kazim Niaz against Makinal sub-division of Haripur, where the encroachment of forest land had occurred in violation of forestry laws. The area is sited adjacent to Islamabad’s Margalla Hills.

The inquiry committee that submitted its report to the KP chief secretary for action held responsible senior officials of the forest department who have allegedly facilitated land developers to illegally cut trees and encroach on the designated forests of Makhnial subdivision.

“Some private land developers have blatantly violated the law by raising concrete structure in Guzara forests, because the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest Ordinance, 2002, does not allow anybody to alter the use of the designated forest lands other than for the purpose of the plantation,” the report stated.

“The law is very clear about the land use of Guzara forests. Section-19 of the Forest Ordinance clearly stipulates that breakage of Guzara forests land and clearance of vegetation therefrom shall be strictly prohibited,” said an official of environment department.

The land developers, he said, had bulldozed the the law in Makhnial, which held big attraction for the land mafia because of its location.Encroachment in Makhnial forests was unearthed with the help of Geographic Information System, field visits by the three members of the inquiry committee.

The official documents revealed that land developers have illegally occupied approximately 15.75 hectares (38.92 acres) of forest-covered area, besides illicit cutting of conifer trees.The report said the committee members thoroughly checked properties recorded observations, and took GIS coordinates, following which the field data was processed in the GIS laboratory of Forestry, Planning and Monitoring Circle in Peshawar on the basis of topographic maps.