Court holds illegal buildings responsible for Murree’s worsening infrastructure

RAWALPINDI: In the next five years, the situation in Murree will worsen if the construction of illegal buildings does not stop, the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench remarked Monday.

The court resumed hearing the case on the Murree disaster that took the lives of 22 tourists. During the proceeding, the judge called for a detailed report of illegal buildings and encroachments in the hill station.

He sought information on the mechanism of buying and selling land in Murree as well.

The court stressed on educating the public on tourism in the northern areas. “Use media and keep people updated.”

It directed the Punjab tourism secretary to visit all the tourist destinations in the province and overview them. “Go to Kotli Sattian. The city is flooding with trash,” the court pointed out and ordered officials to bring a copy of the Punjab tourism act at the next hearing.

The case was adjourned till February 7.

Earlier this month, a group of citizens filed a petition stating that innocent people lost their lives due to the indifference of the authorities. “There was no traffic or any other plan despite a weather forecast.”

The petitioner added that even hotel owners in Murree charges exorbitant prices despite a blizzard.

Consequently, the court had issued notices to director of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority and the commissioner and deputy commissioner of Rawalpindi.

Meanwhile, in a separate petition filed in the Islamabad High Court, Justice Athar Minallah had declared the National Disaster Management Authority responsible for the tragedy.

It ruled that if another tragedy, like the one in Murree, takes place, the National Disaster Management Commission will be responsible for it.

Last week, Attorney General Khalid Jawed told the court that action against those found responsible for the disaster has started. “A session of the National Disaster Management Commission, too, will soon be called,” he reassured.

It might take some time because the forum is huge and members are unavailable. “If the need arises, we will conduct the session via circulation.”

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