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Illegal Construction of New Monal

ISLAMABAD: The Forest Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has warned the Galiyat Development Authority (GDA) of illegal construction in the protected area of Makhnial, Haripur Forest Division by New Monal Restaurant, which had been repeatedly charged with violation of Section 144.

The department, in a letter, realized the GDA director general that it was the responsibility of the Authority to ensure compliance of the Section 144 imposed by the KP chief minister banning all sorts of construction in the Makhnial forest area.

According to a senior official of the KP Forest Department, the Dino Valley Hotel (New Monal) was being constructed illegally by the Monal Restaurant authorities at 85-kanal forest land.

As per the land records of KP Revenue Department and cadastral maps by the Survey of Pakistan, he said, the Dino Valley Hotel was being built on the Guzara Forest land.

“The Survey of Pakistan cadastral maps with proper GPS have verified the status of forest land before and after any encroachments carried out in the area,” he added.

A Forest Department team comprising SDFO Zohaib Hassan and guards had raided various encroachment spots and got vacated the government land brought under illicit construction activities.

In violation of Section 44 of the Forest Ordinance 2002, the Forest Department in response lodged three first information reports (FIRs) against the owner of Dino Valley Hotel Luqman Afzal on different occasions, filed a prosecution case and confiscated the excavator used for breaking rocks to construct the building.

The official said the hotel was located on main Pir Sohawa Road Makhnial with a restaurant and park established over an area of 85 kanal land of Kotla Guzara Forest.

The said area was not only protected under the management plan, but, was also recorded as “Mehdooda” (restricted area) in the Revenue Department record, he added.

The official said all the cases against New Monal owners were under trail in the Court of Special Forest Magistrate Haripur.

To a query, he sad the GDA had granted permission to open the restaurant of Dino Valley which was against the spirit of Section 144 of Forest Ordinance 2002.

The GDA director general was requested to reconsider the permission and seal the facility to ensure the government’s writ under Section 144, he added.

He further informed that the Dino Valley authorities were conducting development work in odd hours to hoodwink the local administration and the Forest Department.

The official said he had also seized two excavators of Highland Country Club and local builders violating Section 144, and registered prosecution cases that were under trial in the sessions court.

SDFO Makhnial Zohaib Hassan said there were two types of forest land – Guzara and Reserve forests. The latter was the property of Forest Department whereas the former was owned by the local communities under the management of the department.

“No land use change can be made in the Guzara Forest without the approval of the provincial cabinet,” he underscored.

He further informed that a total area of 5-kanal land of Reserved Forest area worth Rs 25 million was retrieved from the notables and dignitaries who were carrying out illicit construction.

When contacted, the GDA officials evaded to give their response. Likewise, the Dino Valley, and Highland Country Club authorities also did not offer their stance.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.