Amid silence of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) over Pakistan Army’s land ownership claim at Margalla Hills, Monal has started paying a monthly rent to Remount Veterinary & Farms Directorate (RV&F) General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi.
According to The Nation, the leaseholder of Monal Restaurant has paid Rs484,008 as arrears of rental payment for September, Rs1,300,000 as rental of November, and Rs910,000 as rental of December 2019 to the RV&F GHQ.
The building in which the restaurant is operating was constructed by the CDA and leased to Luqman Ali Afzal in 2006. It is now an iconic eatery of the federal capital.
The city managers, while establishing this amenity by expending huge amount from public exchequer, never thought that the subject land does not belong to CDA as it was enjoying its sole ownership and absolute possession since 1961.
However, tables turned around in 2016, when the army came forward with the claim that the said land was once allotted to Military Farms Rawalpindi in 1910 by then government of Punjab for the production of hay for army animals.
To settle the over a century-old claim of the ownership of 8,603 acres military land in the area, a meeting was held on November 8, 2016, under the chair of then defence minister.
According to GHQ’s letters, it was decided in the said meeting to revert back the subject land to the owner, RV&F, after a joint survey by the ministry and CDA.
Later, a survey was conducted on the request of the RV&F directorate to demarcate the military grass land at Margalla Hills, following which the demarcation was started in February 2017 and completed in May 2017. In it, a total of 8655.62 acres of land was demarcated as military grass land.
In the light of said demarcation, the RV&F directorate conveyed the leaseholder of Monal that his building came inside 8655.62 acres land and he was asked to provide lease documents in addition to the payment of arrears and monthly rents to RV&F directorate instead of CDA.
MONAL BUILT ON ARMY’S LAND:
In November, a CDA official had told a parliamentary committee that the capital’s famous Monal Restaurant was built on military land and the army wanted it back.
According to Dawn, Dr Shahid Mahmood had told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change that 15 years ago, the CDA “did not know it was building the restaurant on military grasslands until the army started claiming it”.
The committee was told that the 22,000 acres of land — that are now a part of the Margalla Hills National Park — were actually owned by the Punjab government.
Around 5,500 acres of the said land was allocated to the army, he said, although the exact year the allocation was made, was not stated. The CDA now owns 16,500 acres.
The latest survey conducted by the authority revealed that the land allotted to the army is right in the centre of the national park, and Monal has been built on it.
Monal Restaurant was built in 2005 and was a CDA property. The operation of the restaurant was leased for a 10 year period, Dr Mahmood told the committee, adding that the space was now being vacated and handed over to the army.