ISLAMABAD   -   The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board has sought clarification from the Capital Development Authority over the ‘legal status’ of the La Mon­tana restaurant, which is located at Margalla Hills National Park. 

A letter in this regard was written by the Chairperson of the IWMB Rina Saeed Khan to the Chairman CDA, in which she pointed out that the M/s Capital View Point restaurant com­monly known as ‘La Montana’ is do­ing commercial activities in violation of Section 21 of Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conserva­tion and Management) Ordinance 1979. 

The letter added further that the operations of La Montana restaurant are also in violation of the directions passed by the Islamabad High Court barring all commercial activities in the area. The IWMB requested the CDA to clarify its position about the legal status of La Montana in the light of Islamabad High Court order for further necessary actions. 

Officials inside the civic authority explained that the said restaurant was initially a small kiosk but later turned to be a gigantic hotel gradu­ally. They further informed that there was no proper approval in hand of the owner of the said kiosk but he got multiple tainted sanctions later from the Directorate of Municipal Admin­istration, Directorate of Environment and the Building Control. 

On the other hand, when contacted, owner of the La Montana Restaurant Shoukat Awan claimed that he has met all the legal requirements to run ho­tel in the Margalla Hills National Park. “I started this restaurant in the early 1990s when there was nothing in the area to attract the citizens,” he main­tained, informing: “I have built this building by my own investment and I also got approval of my building plans from the Building Control Department.” 

He has informed further that the space to build the said hotel was giv­en to him by the Directorate of Mu­nicipal Administration and he is pay­ing Rs5 lakh per month as its rent. 

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Irfan Nawaz Memon, who is also administrator of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad was tried to approach but he was unavailable for the comments. However, while responding on the issue, Director DMA Shakeel Arshad Cheena has confirmed that a letter from IWMB had been received in the directorate but it is under process yet and after thoroughly studying the case, the di­rectorate will respond back. 

He said if the restaurant has been working on such a main location for the last many years then there should be a proper approval but he said I am not in the position to comment on it without going through the file. 

It is pertinent to mention that it is not the first time that La Montana Restaurant has come under discus­sion but in the past a high-powered environmental commission consti­tuted by the IHC had already de­clared La Montana restaurants as il­legal because it violated regulations of Islamabad Capital Territory Zon­ing Regulations.