Home News Analysis Shakarparian cricket stadium plan is scrapped

Shakarparian cricket stadium plan is scrapped

Shakarparian

News Desk |

The Supreme Court on Thursday scrapped the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) ambitious project to build a cricket stadium in Shakarparian, Islamabad. The Apex Court ordered the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to take control of the construction site with immediate effect.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar headed the three-member bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. According to the CDA notification from 1980, the proposed site of Islamabad cricket stadium fell within the jurisdiction of Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP). SC ruled that a cricket stadium cannot be constructed in Shakarparian because it is part of the National Park area.

After the SC order, CDA has taken back control of the site. The Apex Court ordered to make a four-member committee to look after the restoration process of the site. The committee includes the petitioner, former secretary Roedad Khan, CDA Chairman Usman Bajwa, famous television anchor Hamid Mir, and the director general of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Citing the financial difficulties with no international cricket in the country, for long periods of time, PCB had abandoned the project, until the super success of lucrative Pakistan Super League.

The cash-strapped CDA had also backtracked on its decision to allow PCB to continue with construction. It raised objections over PCB’s reluctance to fulfill the MOU’s terms and conditions. CDA had informed the court that it will not execute the lease agreement because PCB has failed to comply with the conditions of MOU signed in 2012.

It accused PCB of deforestation without seeking the NOC from environmental bodies. Last month, PCB chairman Najam Sheti had also told the SC that it is no longer interested in constructing the stadium at the desired location [Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP)].

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Nevertheless, Sheti showed the desire that the board was still deeply interested in building a cricket stadium in the Islamabad at some other location. He blamed CDA for leasing the land despite knowing the fact that it was part of the national site.

2008 Plan Challenged by Roedad Khan

PCB had first elaborated the plans to construct the stadium in 2008. Right from the beginning, the environmental feasibility of the plan was challenged by environmental groups and civil society.

In 2012, CDA and PCB had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU). Under the agreement, CDA allotted 35 acres near Shakarparian for construction of the stadium. Moreover, the income from international matches and sponsorships was to be shared between CDA and PCB with the ratio of 30 % and 70% respectively.

MHS President Roedad Khan had filed a civil petition praying the apex court to order both the parties to scarp the plan. The petitioner argued that the construction of a stadium at the national park in violation of a court order issued on October 25, 2013.

The cash-strapped CDA had also backtracked on its decision to allow PCB to continue with construction. It raised objections over PCB’s reluctance to fulfill the MOU’s terms and conditions.

Citing the financial difficulties with no international cricket in the country, for long periods of time, PCB had abandoned the project, until the super success of lucrative Pakistan Super League.

In March 2016, PCB had decided to revive the project. Immediately after the announcement, the National Council for Conservation of Wildlife (NCCW) opposed the construction of a cricket stadium in Shakarparian.

Read more: Is it high time for international cricket to return to Pakistan?

A Threat to the Ecosystem

The project like this can seriously damage the ecosystem of the capital, already facing the brunt of climate change and its share of deforestation in last decades. The Islamabad Wildlife Protection, Conservation, and Management Ordinance, 1979, protect the Margalla Hills National Park and Shakarparian is also part of it.

CDA and PCB both were after money. PCB should work on the upgrading of existing stadiums rather than making new ones. The Shakarparian is within close vicinity of the Rawalpindi stadium which needs serious refurbishment. Its seat capacity can be enhanced and management of the stadium can be improved.

Deforestation is already taking a toll on the city. Water shortages have made the life of a common man miserable in the city. A capital city where drinking water has become a major problem, deforestation can only escalate the water crises. No international teams are visiting Pakistan. Forest help control temperatures and trees help store it.


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