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Probe sought into ministry's failure to set up botanical garden.

Byline: Jamal Shahid

ISLAMABAD -- The auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) has recommended an inquiry into the failure of the Ministry of Climate Change to establish a botanical garden even though it was handed over the possession of 583 acres for the purpose about 20 years ago.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) handed over the physical possession of the land in Banigala hills to the Zoological Survey of Pakistan in 1999 for the establishment of the zoo-cum-botanical garden.

However, the AGP in a report for 2017-18 observed that so far the Zoological Survey of Pakistan could not develop the garden.

Cases pending in courts over encroachment on 583 acres in Banigala reserved for the zoo-cum-biological garden, report says

Half a dozen cases pertaining to encroachment on the land are pending in courts since 2005, the report added.

A piece of land reserved for the botanical garden was earmarked to the Pakistan Tobacco Company in Aug 2015 for plantation of 600,000 saplings and in 2010 about 12 acres was handed over to the Worldwide Fund Pakistan for establishment of a biodiversity information centre. But no progress was shown on the projects.

Last year, the ministry intended to establish a garden on 725 acres which was expected to be completed within two years.

With an increase in construction activities in Islamabad, the establishment of a botanical garden on such a huge piece of land was believed to be a milestone in protecting the environment.

It was expected to be one of the biggest botanical gardens in South Asia that would be accessible to environmental scientists, students and the citizens.

The plan was initiated by the government at a cost of Rs100 million and the then federal minister for climate change Mushahidullah Khan inaugurated construction of a 15 km wall around the proposed zoo-cum botanical garden.

The wall was built to protect the land from land grabbers and private housing societies.

After the crackdowns and anti-encroachment drives, the government managed to retrieve 250 acres out of the total 725 acres.

The AG recommended that an inquiry may be conducted to fix responsibility on those for the delay in the construction of the botanical garden.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 5, 2019
Words:413
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