ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) said on Friday that a cricket ground could not be constructed in Shakarparian if it violated the national park’s limits.
“If the cricket ground falls within the limits of Shakarparian National Park, then it cannot be constructed there,” Justice Nisar remarked.
Margalla Hills Society (MHC) Chairman Roedad Khan had filed a petition which said that the construction of a cricket ground in Shakarparian would prove to be harmful to the environment.
The CJP was heading a three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) which conducted the proceeding on Khan’s plea.
Roedad Khan said, “Influential people have been given the authority to chop down trees to construct the stadium.”
“After earlier court orders, the chopping and crushing of trees had been halted,” Khan added.
Justice Nisar questioned whether a piece of land could be allocated for a cricket stadium that overlaps with that of the National Park in Shakarparian.
The MHC chairman said, “I’m not aware of the limits of the park but I do know that it is a protected area and development activity there is a violation of the law.”
The CJP responded to this by saying, “First it needs to be established if the ground falls within the park. If it does, then it cannot be constructed there.”
Additional Attorney General (AAG) Rana Waqar apprised the court and said, “The land allotted for the cricket ground falls within the limits of Shakarparian National Park and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had asked for 48 acres of land in 2008 for the construction of the ground.”
The AAG added, “We did not even have a deal with the PCB.” AAG Waqar also said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had halted construction of the ground after 2013.
Addressing the SC’s concerns, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi said that PCB would not construct the ground if it violates the National Park’s limits and the board was “environment-friendly”. “We will return the land if it falls within the park limits,” added Sethi.
While maintaining its order of halting the ground’s construction, the CJP said, “Several stores have been built around Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium and the smoke from the restaurants even comes inside the stadium, and maybe some PCB members have established these stores and receive monetary gains.”
While speaking to the media, the PCB chairman said, “We are committed to working towards the betterment of sports in the country.”
Sethi also said that there should be a cricket stadium in every city of Pakistan but not at the expense of the environment.
“We believe there should be a cricket stadium in every district and that there should be one in Islamabad too,” Sethi added. “If a stadium cannot be constructed in this area, then we won’t build it,” PCB’s chairman concluded.