Motorboating in Rawal Lake can put lives at risk

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Despite of the ban, unabated motor boating in Rawal Lake continues to pose serious threats to visitor’s life other then polluting water.

The operators have set up small boat-yards at Lake View Park’s visitors’ point after breaking the park’s walls while the Capital Development Authority (CDA) turned blind to the matter.

Dozens of boats including motor, paddle and rowboats can be seen in Rawal Lake without provision of life jackets to the visitors and safety measures.

“It seems that the departments concerned including CDA and ICT administration are waiting for a tragedy to strike” said a tourist while talking to APP.

Bilal, a boat operator said that he had purchased a point here against Rs 100,000 from another person.

He claimed that the boat operators pay Rs 1,500 to the employee’s of concerned departments as a bribe per week against each motorboat.

He said motorboats attract visitors more as compared to paddle or rowboats. They also provide life jackets to the visitors if they demand.

Jamal Ali, a visitor said that the boats used for rowing in the lake are in terrible conditions and majority of boat operators are inexperienced and underage.

He said that there were about 200 boats in the lake being operated without life jackets.The CDA and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration have apparently turned a blind eye to the illegal activity, he added.

When contacted CDA Member Environment Wing, Sanaullah Aman said that the department would take stern action to stop this illegal practice.

When asked, why CDA could not registered FIRs against the persons who set up boat points after damaging park’s property, he said in a light tune that the cases would also be registered against the violators.

However, ICT Administration’s Assistant Commissioner Secretariat, Captain (R) Waqas Rashid said the department had confiscated about 23 engines of motorboats and registered cases against seven people in the past six month in a bid to stop this practice.

He said most of the motorboat operators disappear along with their boats as soon as the department raids Rawal Lake.

He admitted that in accordance of the orders of apex court, all kind of boating is banned in Rawal Lake, however, saying that it was the responsibility of Small Dams Division to stop this exercise.

Waqas Rashid said that ICT administration has also imposed section 144 in Rawal Lake to stop swimming and illegal boating.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official said that the boats were a major source of pollution in the lake, and criticized the capital administration for not enforcing the ban.

“It’s not just oil residues released from the engines of the motorboats; it shakes up the sediments at the bottom of the lake in shallow areas. Stirring up sediments decreases water quality by adding more particles,” he said.