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Pak-EPA rejects Garden Avenue dualisation project

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) on Saturday rejected a Capital Development Authority (CDA) project that envisaged the dualisation of Garden Avenue.

The Pak-EPA rejected the project on environmental grounds. Under the IEE/EIA Regulations, 2000, the CDA submitted an initial environmental examination (IEE) report of the project to the Pak-EPA for the approval.

The CDA stated in the IEE that it was planning to dualise the Garden Avenue that starts from I-8 roundabout and joins the Murree Road while passing through stadium, Lok Virsa and the National History Museum.

The proposed dualisation project envisaged 300 feet wide road consisting of dual carriageway. The CDA stated in the IEE that during the execution of the project 900 trees would be cut down.

The Pak-EPA stated in its letter to the CDA that the dualisation of the Garden Avenue was not justified, as presently the traffic volume on the road was low.

The agency also said that due to the dualisation of the road, the green cover would further diminish, which had already decreased due to recent development in Islamabad. The Pak-EPA said that the project was located in the ecologically sensitive area, which was a part of the Margalla Hills National Park, where all commercial activities were banned.

The Pak-EPA refused to approve the project under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997. However, the agency suggested that if the project was essential, the CDA might consider widening of the existing single road by only 10 feet – 5 feet on each side – subject to the condition that only the existing shoulders may be constructed along the alignment.

Pak-EPA Monitoring Director Ziaul Islam told Daily Times that the decision was taken after careful assessment of the IEE submitted by the CDA. He said that Pak-EPA Director General Asif Shuja Khan visited the sight and conducted a through monitoring of the area.

Islam said that it was concluded during the monitoring that the dualisation would increase traffic volume in the area. He also said that since the CDA had already constructed Zero Point Interchange and dualised a number of roads in the capital, there was no need of dualisation of the Garden Avenue.

He said that the road projects irreparably damaged the flora and fauna of the area. He said that increased traffic on the Pir Sohawa Road was causing environment degradation. He said that along damage to vegetation, the wild life of the area was under threat, and species of birds were migrating from the area.

He also mentioned that the recent chopping of trees and vegetation at Parade Ground adjacent to the proposed project had already damaged the flora and fauna of the area.

No environment impact assessment was ever conducted for the Parade Ground project, where reportedly hundreds of trees and vegetations were removed from acres of land.

Sorce: Daily Times

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