Social media users have made astute observations and expressed disapproval of the idea for development of a high-end park at Daman-e-Koh, Margalla Hills, a potential design for which was crafted and shared by renowned architect Tony Ashai on Twitter a day ago.
Ashai, who is the founder of the globally famous Ashai Design Consulting Corporation, had posted a few renderings of his proposed design for the park in Daman-e-Koh, which he claimed Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested him to work on. The images he posted showed layers of green terraces that housed retail and food outlets, all over overlooking Islamabad’s lush green Margalla Hills.
Following his post, netizens gave their views about the idea, with many leaning towards disapproval. A hobbyist bird watcher and photographer, Zahran, saw the design and hoped that the park never came to fruition because it would be an affront to the environment. He pointed out that the illegal construction of Monal, which lies north of Daman-e-Koh, had already caused damage to the natural flora and fauna in the area. Zahran opined that the area should be declared a wildlife sanctuary and that the suggested development should be prohibited like it is in national parks around the world.
I hope it never gets approval. We don't need any further permanent construction in the National Park. Already the Illegally constructed Monal is causing severe damage.
All this Park needs is more native tree plantation & waste proper waste management. That's it
— Zahran CR (@ZahranCR) August 24, 2021
Other users echoed Zahran’s concerns regarding the environment
Plz keep your scrap plans in your pocket. Illegal Commercial businesses have already made serious damages to #MargallahHills .instead decreasing toxic footprints of commercial activities you are proposing a total disaster for biodiversity and nature.#SaveMargallahHills #MHNP
— Aamir Amjad (@aamirsamjad) August 25, 2021
This is a national park. There is not supposed to be any commercial activity here. You are going to destroy the remaining park. Not a good idea.
— Armaghan Uddin Khan (@khanarmaghan) August 24, 2021
Please don't please 🙏
Currently the park is in a bad shape. You want to bring it in a worse shape. Too much concrete already. Why can't we think of real Eco friendly construction Concepts.
— Kamran Hashmi (@kaamran) August 25, 2021
This plan should be rejected immediately, we dont need concrete structures we want trees, cars shouldn’t be allowed in margallas, people should hike
— Muhammad Usman (@Muhammad_Uxman) August 24, 2021
One user responded with diplomacy, stating that Ashai had made a good design, but Pakistan wasn’t ready for such a tourist space. Better waste management should be the goal before setting more tourist spaces, ideally far away from green spaces like Daman-e-Koh, he posited.
It's a great design, but Pakistan needs all the green space it can afford; the last thing it needs is more concrete and visitors trashing green spaces. Once Pakistan has a waste management system they can move towards more tourist attractions, ideally miles from green areas.
— W.M.Aslam (Author & Artist) (@WMASLAM63323693) August 24, 2021
Climate activist Rina Khan Satti pointed out that the park’s construction fell under the jurisdiction of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and was subject to its approval. Satti also responded to Ashai’s claims that the park was currently in ‘bad shape’. She suggested that the architect visited the trails to observe how the environment had flourished because it escaped the human touch.
First of all IWMB are the legal custodians of MHNP & any plan for construction in park has to be vetted & approved by board first! Secondly, park is hardly in “bad shape”. We would like to invite you to our trails & show you results of better protection of park in last 6 years
— Rina S Khan Satti (@rinasaeed) August 25, 2021
Another user responded to Satti and suggested that Ashai was potentially referring to the rocks and cluttered growth of trees. Nevertheless, she agreed with Satti that the area would do well if it wasn’t polluted with noise and blinding lights.
I think I he meant there are lots of trees overgrowth & dust, rocks etc. No concrete structures, benches, junk food outlets throwing their garbage, neon signs & noise to scare off the animals. Please leave Margallas alone. We love it.
— Sana Jamal (@sanajamaltasnim) August 25, 2021
One user hinted at the potential gentrification that could result from the park’s development. Inaccessible high end retail shops would inadvertently drive low-income communities away from the public space, he predicted.
This looks like quite an expensive undertaking that will then be offset by giving space to high end retailers thus limiting access to general public. We know how this usually goes.
— Khansaab (@GumbyAKhan) August 25, 2021
Branching out of climate related criticism, a user called Ashai’s appointment to the task as nepotism on PM Khan’s part. According to the user, Ashai was Khan’s friend, who was earlier commissioned to design Namal Institute that was founded by the PM.
How come just the PM’s friend who made namal university was asked for an idea? Nepotism at its height. This government has no concept of accountability, transparency or common sense
— NK (@KamalNatalya) August 24, 2021
Ashai rejected the charge of nepotism and said that others were also asked to present their ideas.
Not true. They have asked many people for ideas and this is mine. https://t.co/JdwFCTOYoF
— Tony Ashai (@tonyashai) August 24, 2021
Taking note of the criticism, Ashai thanked users for their comments. What he had presented was just an ideation, not the actual project itself, he explained. A competitive bidding process would be followed if the project ever took off, which was unlikely given how slow developmental projects are in Pakistan, Ashai claimed.