Islamabad: A remarkable discovery was made while digging a pit for a plantation in Ayubia National Park in northern Pakistan when a 100-year-old British-era tunnel was found from a trash mound. The historic ’Moto Tunnel’ built in 1891, which was buried in a garbage dump due to neglect, has now been restored to its original glory by the Ministry of Climate Change.
Historic and cultural site
The historic tunnel that will now attract more tourists, hikers and history lovers was inaugurated on October 29 by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam.
A century ago, the 250-feet long tunnel connected the two valleys in Ayubia and Murree. The restoration will now reduce the travel distance for the pedestrians living in the mountainous region. The meticulous work of illuminating the tunnel has been done carefully, keeping the heritage and original beauty intact. Various facilities including paved track to the tunnel, information centre, guide, resting areas and coffee shop have also been set up for tourists.
Located in picturesque park
The historical and archeological tourist site is located in the picturesque and biodiversity-rich Ayubia National Park - spread over 3,312 hectares in the Galliat region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and home to 256 species of birds, 33 species of mammals and 104 kinds of plants.
The Ministry of Climate Change and KP’s wildlife department jointly renovated and restored the tunnel to its original glory the ‘Moto Tunnel’ as a cultural and heritage icon due to its archaeological significance under the Global Environment Facility and UNDP’s Sustainable Forest Management project, said Suleman Khan, Inspector General Forest at the climate change ministry.
Preserving nature while promoting tourism
There is an increasing realisation in Pakistan to promote sustainable tourism and development that does “not lead to exploitation of natural resources rather their protection and preservation,” said Amin Aslam. “Protecting and preserving natural resources like lakes, mountains, beaches and rivers, which are the main sources of tourism attraction and promoting ecotourism concepts and practices at all levels, which promote sane use of natural resources, is inevitable for overall environmental and economic sustainability,” he asserted.
This has been the focus during the renovation of the British-era tunnel to preserve the historic relic while causing no damage to the environment.
Protecting environment and national parks
Over the last several years, Pakistan’s ecosystem has greatly suffered due to unsustainable development and tourism especially in biodiversity-rich areas. Many of these areas “are at risk of vanishing because of damage caused due to unsustainable tourism practices and mining of natural resources, particularly tree-felling and contamination of natural water channels,” said the premier’s aide, Amin Aslam. To encourage tourists while protecting the environment, the government is taking all-out measures to promote sustainable models of ecotourism in consultation with local partners and communities as part of Prime Minister’s vision for Clean and Green Pakistan, he said.