The Galiyat Development Authority (GDA) on Friday declared the Ayubia chairlift, a major tourist attraction in the picnic spot, dangerous for use and stopped its operation till its replacement.
This spells bad news for tourists and businessmen running shops, eateries and pushcart owners, who depend on tourists to earn their living.
According to a press release issued by GDA spokesperson Ahsan Hameed, the Ayubia chairlift was no longer safe for people and running it in such a condition was risky.
He said that the current chairlift was installed in 1965 and was declared extremely dangerous by WPK international firm in 2019. He said during the current season; they had seen an unprecedented influx of tourists, which was four times more than the capacity of the chairlift.
The spokesperson said that because of Austria’s WPK firm recommendation; they have decided to cease the operation of the chairlift with immediate effect and would be re-opened once a new chairlift was installed.
The current chairlift, on a spur in thick alpine forests, was installed in the 1960s at Ghora Daka. Having a length of one and a half kilometres, the manually operated chairlift comprises 55 two-seater units and attracts tourists of all ages and income groups from across the country.
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In winter, the units hover over a beautiful white blanket covering the hills beneath; picnickers from all over the country flock to Ayubia for the splendid view.
The chairlift’s condition, however, with the passage of time and poor maintenance, has deteriorated and it is no longer considered safe for people.
Court maintains status quo in case against GDA
The Peshawar High Court circuit bench Abbottabad has maintained the status quo in a case related to the lease of land by the GDA to a private firm to install a chairlift in Ayubia and construct a high-rise hotel.
The GDA has leased out 110-kanal land to the private company Manal Group on a term lease.
The bench comprising Justice Ibrahim Khan and Justice Shakeel Ahmed issued the status quo on a petition filed by the Galliyat Tahafuz Movement (GTM). The court issued notices to the parties on October 18.
The GTM, a community-based social organisation, has taken up the plea that the long-term lease agreement made by GDA with M/s Monal Group was unlawful and ultra vires to the provision of Forest Act, Wild Life Act, GDA Act also in conflict with fundamental rights of the locals. It stated that a 60-kanal patch of land was also falling under the jurisdiction of Ayubia National Park.
The double bench, after hearing the arguments, granted the status quo and sought replies from respondents on October 19.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2021.