EPA rejects dualisation of Garden Avenue

ISLAMABAD - In order to save the sacrifice of around 900 trees for the construction of concrete structure, the Ministry of Environment has flatly declined the environmental approval of CDA's proposed project of 'Dualisation of Garden Avenue'. Declining the environmental approval of "Dualisation of Garden Avenue" (Shakarparian Road), project of Capital Development Authority (CDA), the ministry has noted that the proposed project will cause environment degradation. Under IEE/EIA Regulations 2000, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) was submitted Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) report to Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) for getting environmental approval of dualization of Garden Avenue. After review of the IEE report and physical site inspection, high ups of environment agency observed that the dualization of the Garden Avenue is not justified at this stage, when the traffic volume is low and the green cover will further diminish, which has already decreased due to recent development activities in Islamabad. Hence, in exercise of the powers conferred to Director General, Pak-EPA under clause (b) of subsection (2) of section 12 of Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997, Environmental approval of the project has been declined. Source on the condition of anonymity informed that the CDA officials wanted dualization of Garden Avenue as according to them traffic flow of area increased at a time when special events being held at venue of Shakarparian. When contacted Asif Sujjah, Director PAK-EPA informed that the request of CDA officials has been turned down due to aftermath of construction work of the area, we are not against development work, but we just want to protect environment of metropolitan, which has already been affected due to unnecessary construction work. He further explained that the proposed dualisation of Garden Avenue envisaged 300 ft wide road consisting of dual carriageway, and each carriageway of 150 ft wide was divided into 24 ft paved road, 1.5 ft central median, 12 ft shoulder, 6 ft drain, 10 ft cycle tract, 10 ft footpath and 86.5 ft of green belt. He further continued that Pak-EPA, however, suggested, if it is essential at all, Capital Development Authority may consider widening of the existing single road by only 10 ft (5 ft each side) subject to the condition that only the existing shoulders may be metalled along the alignment. In addition to that, he further noted that the project is located in the ecological sensitive area being part of the Margalla Hills National Park. "Execution of this project would resulted in massive cutting of trees that is main reason for, as about 900 trees would be cut down as a result of construction work", he further added. It is to be mentioned here that according to a recently published index Pakistan ranks 12th on the list of countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Date available with TheNation also revealed that safe slandered of air quality of Islamabad is 35 micrograms per cubic meter, however presently about 80 to 100 micrograms per cubic meter is recorded air quality of capital. Member Environment of CDA, Mazhar Hussain could not be contacted for comment.

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