LAHORE, Feb 11: Model Town Park Bachao Tehrik on Monday sought help from the green bench of the Lahore High Court, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and others concerned to take action against the Model Town Society (MTS) office-bearers for unlawfully commercialising the green areas without No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the environment department.
On the other hand, the MTS administration accused the Tehrik’s office-bearers of misleading residents as well as the public at large on the issue.
In a letter addressed to Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah (LHC judge, green bench), chief minister, Environment Protection Agency chief, environment department secretary and cooperative department’s registrar, Tehrik’s convener Tanvir Ahmed accused the MTS of destroying town’s green areas on the pretext of commercialisation/development. “The MTS has neither sought NOC from the departments concerned nor any respective agency checked such an unlawful act on its own, resulting in destruction of green areas,” reads the letter.
It said since the MTS had already cut a large number of over 100-year-old trees and ruined the J-Block (Nursery), it was now planning to convert some parts of the big green areas of the town to make room for unapproved multi-storey plazas. “As it is an illegal act on the part of the MTS, you are requested to take action, directing the office-bearers to avoid doing so,” the letter says.
MTS’ STANCE: In a statement on Monday, MTS President Sahibzada Saifur Rehman Khan rejected the allegations levelled by Tanvir Ahmed. “Our opponents, who were proved a minority in the last MTS elections, have been spreading unfounded/misleading propaganda. Alleging us for converting MTS central park into a joy land is totally false and baseless,” Khan said.
He said actually the MTS planned to convert an area, which had never been a part of the central park in society’s original master plan, into a children corner (play/amusement area). A few years back, the area was attached to the central park and some swings/slides were installed there for kids to play. “We actually want to upgrade the existing facility into a children play area without unnecessarily creating noise pollution. As the access to this area will be from the inner ring road and not from the central park, it will not disturb anybody.”
He said the society planned to utilise around 12 kanals of the linear park (Ferozepur Road), spreading on 600 kanals for commercial activity (eating facility etc) keeping in view difficulty of the MTS in bearing expenses to maintain such a huge area with meagre resources. “It is a common practice that people who visit the parks do need some resting place and eating facility at the end of their walking session,” Khan said.
Later talking to Dawn, the MTS president said there was no plan to cut trees in linear park or the children corner of the central park. He accused Park Bachao Tehrik’s convener of unnecessarily creating hurdles in the way of a legally approved commercialisation plan of the MTS.