A special meeting of the NGOs and Islamabad-based civil society members of IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Pakistan National Committee (PNC), was held in Islamabad today to discuss the environmental impact of the Margallah Hills Tunnel Project.
The participating members felt a strong need for making public the details of the project to ensure transparency in addressing the ecological concerns in the proposed project. They also emphasised the need for busting the myth that development always causes economic revolution.
The members of IUCN PNC also expressed deep concerns about the frequent violations of the sanctity of nature by the emerging hotel industry, development of housing societies, and the ongoing stone quarrying within the Margallah Hills National Park, which is protected under the national and international laws. It was also stressed during the meeting that the massive development around Rawal Lake and Shakarparian be curtailed to protect the National Park. Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative of IUCN Pakistan, urged that the National Park be protected as per the recommendations of the Management Plan.
The members of IUCN also resolved to establish a broad-based civil society alliance for the protection of Margallah Hills and to ensure that the development does not take place at the cost of the environment. They also emphasised on enhanced media coverage and general public awareness of the environmental impacts of the project.
The IUCN member organisations participating in the meeting included: the Aga Khan Rural Development Programme (ARSP); HAASHAR Association; Human Resource Development Network (HRDN); Institute for Rural Management (IRM); Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO); SUNGI Development Foundation; and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Pakistan.
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