ISLAMABAD: Though a large number of trees have been copped off for the construction of the metro bus track in Islamabad, environmentalists stress the need to compensate for the loss to Islamabad’s greenery.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) believes that the loss can be covered by plantation and as many as 300,000 saplings will be planted during the next one month. Work on the metro bus project is going on simultaneously on Ninth Avenue and Jinnah Avenue.
Though environmentalists believe that thousands of trees have been removed, the CDA puts the number at 700. It says 5,000 small trees, which had a diameter of less than five inches, have already been replanted.
Talking to Dawn, environmentalist Prof Dr Amir Haider Malik, who is currently working with the Comsats Institute of Information Technology, said the CDA should take steps to make up for the environmental loss.
CDA says 300,000 saplings will be planted within a month
“Deforestation has been observed in different areas near Marghalla Hills and the CDA should plant saplings there. Moreover, plantation should be done in the catchment areas of nullahs,” he said.
He said the CDA should also take steps to stop further loss to environment and also check the loss of forest in fires.
In reply to a question, Prof Malik said in 1960s, during the tenure of the then president Ayub Khan, a wrong decision was taken to plant paper mulberry in the federal capital.
“It is observed all over the world that whenever a non-local sapling is planted somewhere it not only creates problem for the residents but also destroys the local flora and fauna. Paper mulberry did the same and today the residents of the federal capital are facing problem in the shape of pollen allergy,” he said.
“Eucalyptus and poplar trees are a disaster for biodiversity. The CDA should go for the local species such as sheesham and kikar,” he said.Prof Malik said policies should be formulated to stop urbanisation because only that is how environment can be protected.
When contacted, CDA member environment Syed Mustafain Kazmi said the civic agency was trying its best to protect the environment.
“Only 700 trees have been chopped off during the construction of the metro bus route while 5000 trees having a radius of less than five inches have been replanted in nearby areas of the project site,” he said.
The affected utility service lines are also being repaired through the metro bus project funds, he said.
In reply to a question, Mr Kazmi said most of the removed trees were paper mulberry.
“The depot for the metro buses is being constructed on the rear side of the Sunday Bazaar where 250 paper mulberry trees were removed. The CDA has started a plantation campaign during which 300,000 saplings will be planted,” he said.
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2014