GDA Has Leased Over 100 Kanal Land in Ayubia to Monal Group

The Galiyat Development Authority (GDA) has leased out 58.52 kanals of land in Ayubia National Park (ANP) to a private entity for the modernization of the Ayubia Chairlift project. The decision has raised concerns over its potential impact on natural ecosystems and biodiversity. The Monal Group has been granted a lease for 110 kanals of land for commercial purposes in Ayubia, including 58.52 kanals of the national park. The Long Term Rental Lease Agreement inked between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest Department and the GDA on June 21, 2021, lays out the authorized activities within the core zone of the historic park for the executing agency. The permitted activities outlined in the agreement seem to conflict with the core objectives of establishing a National Park, which is aimed at conserving and safeguarding natural ecosystems and biodiversity. These inconsistencies have sparked concerns regarding the motives behind the agreement and the potential adverse effects it may have on the park's ecological int egrity. According to the critics, this lease arrangement breaches both global and domestic laws, explicitly forbidding the transfer or leasing of land within the ambit of a National Park for commercial gains. They highlight the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Biodiversity Act 2015, particularly sections 35 and 36, which restrict such activities. Furthermore, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Chief Conservator of Forests and the Director-General of the GDA has sparked concerns due to procedural irregularities. The National Park, managed by the Wildlife Department under the exclusive control of the Chief Conservator of Wildlife, should have been consulted and included in any decisions regarding land use. The lease agreement anticipates extensive tree cutting, landscape conversion, boundary erection leading to habitat fragmentation, and construction of high-rise buildings and roads. These activities pose a serious threat to biodiversity and ecosystem services, resulting in irreparable environmenta l damage. The project, entangled in a land dispute between the Wildlife Department and the GDA, has remained suspended for three years. Allegations of kickbacks and corruption have surfaced as the acting Chief Conservator signed an agreement to transfer government land to the GDA for a private party. The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) National Parks, based in Manshera, has opposed the MoU, formally reporting the matter to the Conservator Wildlife, National Parks, and other pertinent authorities. The DFO has highlighted the violations of National Parks regulations and discrepancies in leasing and land use agreements. Source: Pro Pakistani