Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buddhist caves caretakers face contempt charges

A petition has been filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking an immediate end to construction activities near centuries-old Buddhist caves on the Margalla hills near Shah Alla Ditta and for initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the caretakers of the site.

Citing Islamabad deputy commissioner, Capital Development Authority chairman, directors’ general of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) and Department of Archeology as respondents, the petitioner, Absarul Haq, filed the petition under Article 204 of the constitution and section 151 of CPC.

The petitioner through his lawyer Saimul Haq Satti contended that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had issued a stay order on December 14, 2010 and directed the respondents to stop the construction activities near the heritage site.

He said the court had directed the respondents to maintain status quo at the site but, unfortunately the court’s directive went unheeded.

According to the petitioner, there are clear signs that a restaurant has been planned right above the Buddhist cave, as terracing work is in progress and heavy machinery is present near there.

Due to the negligence of the respondents, the national heritage of esteemed value is being damaged and the respondents with ulterior motives are avoiding implementing the court orders in its true letter and spirit, the petitioner said.

“The respondents have committed offences which are cognizable under Article 204 of the constitution as they have violated the order of the court,” the petitioner maintained.

The Pak-EPA director general, Asif Shuja Khan, when contacted said he visited the site and found an under-construction restaurant near the Buddhist caves.

He said that was illegal construction and CDA should demolish it and declare this site as protective area.

The CDA spokesman, Ramzan Sajid, said the authority had sent zoning regulations for zone III to the Cabinet Division for approval.

He said after approval of the regulations, CDA would be in a position to regulate the construction related matters of Shah Allah Ditta and other suburbs of the area.

The CDA teams visit the area off and on to keep check on the illegal constructions and act against the violators, he added.

Asad. Malik. 2011. "Buddhist caves caretakers face contempt charges". Dawn. Posted: July 23, 2011. Available online:

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