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Margalla Hills National Park: PTDC to execute chairlift project
04-24-2015, 03:14 PM
Post: #1
Margalla Hills National Park: PTDC to execute chairlift project
ISLAMABAD:
City managers seem perplexed over recent decisions of the government where it continues to undercut the CDA’s mandate and let other departments carry out projects within Islamabad’s territorial limits.

In a significant development, the Capital Development Authority has agreed in principle to hand over installation of chairlift at the protected Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).

PTDC has formally sought “availability of sites and cooperation” from the CDA in the installation of a chairlift in the MHNP, citing “directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”.

Correspondence seen by The Express Tribune shows that the PTDC managing director recently wrote to the CDA chairperson seeking possession of sites for the project on soft lease.

The development is in contrary to clear-cut provisions in the CDA Ordinance, under which the authority to carry out any developmental or recreational projects within the municipal limits of Islamabad solely belongs to the CDA.

The most significant recent violation of this provision of the ordinance came when the cabinet mandated the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) with executing the metro bus project in Islamabad.

Talking to The Express Tribune, PTDC MD Kabir Ahmad Khan said the prime minister had verbally directed the PTDC to execute the [chairlift] project. “The decision is in line with the prime minister’s vision of providing affordable recreational facilities to the general public,” he said.

The CDA chairperson, he said, had principally agreed to the decision and assured the civic agency’s support.

“The civic agency’s chairperson has assured that soon he will take the case to the CDA board for formal approval,” Khan added.

He said that as it would be a non-profit project, so the CDA had been asked to provide land for a base station and terminating point for the chairlift on soft lease.

Khan informed that the PTDC had completed feasibility survey of the project. He said that the PTDC would not finance the project, as it would be executed on build-operate-transfer basis.

Khan said that the prime minister had recently given verbal directions to the PTDC in this regard.

Project outline

According to the initial feasibility study, the base camp or initiation point of the chairlift will be near Islamabad Zoo, at the foothills of Margallas, while it would culminate at Makhiala Peak near Pir Sohawa village, with a brief stopover at Daman-e-Koh.

The total length of the chairlift would be approximately 2.5 kilometres. According to a rough estimate, the project will cost around Rs1.5 billion.

The project was conceived in 2002, but the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) had refused to grant a no objection certificate for the project, citing environmental concerns.

Later, the CDA board accepted the reservations of the environmentalists and shelved the project.

After the 2013 general election, when the PML-N came to power, the project was reviewed. In 2014, the CDA even sought expression of interest from consultant firms. Six firms had shown interest, but the whole process was scrapped later on.

Now it has been decided that instead of the CDA, PTDC would execute it.

The CDA chairman was not available for comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2015.
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