LAHORE: The relentless cutting and uprooting of trees to carry out various infrastructure-related projects has prompted the civil society to demand the Punjab government for the establishment of a tree care and management authority in order to keep Lahore green and environment-friendly.

Currently the city is witnessing the execution of the Rs1.5 billion Gulberg to Shadman (via Jail Road) signal-free corridor project that has left cutting and uprooting of many trees, particularly on the Gulberg Main Boulevard.

The government is also set to launch the constriction work of the Rs165 billion Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project from Ali Town (Raiwind Road) to Dera Gujran via Multan Road, GPO Chowk (The Mall), railway station and GT Road. And this project also involves cutting and uprooting of many trees.

On the other hand, the construction work on the widening of Canal Road from The Mall (underpass) to Harbanspura and from Doctors Hospital to Thokar Niaz Beg in various phases will also involve the cutting and uprooting of a good number of trees. The Supreme Court has recently allowed the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to go-ahead with the project.

The canal road widening project also includes construction of an underpass at the Chobucha Pathak and this project, too, involves cutting of trees.

“Since we are concerned with keeping Lahore green and environment-friendly along with maintenance of its historical and heritage sites, we want the establishment of an authority like PFA.

Such an authority, if the government establishes, should be named as the tree care management authority,” Lahore Conservation Society Secretary Information Prof Ajaz Anwar told Dawn on Thursday.

He said the immediate work the government needed to start before thinking about the authority was auditing of all existing trees, their kinds, number of trees cut, uprooted, newly planted and their ages.

He urged the government, the LDA, Parks and Horticulture Authority and the Archaeology Department to take the civil society on board on the issue of trees and heritage sites and any other matter pertaining to environment of the city.

About the Lahore canal road widening project, Mr Anwar said the executing agency must take care of the Khan Bahadur’s tomb which was situated very next to the Royal Palm club along the canal (Dharampura to Mughalpura section).

“We demand that the road must be widened extremely to right side of the Canal Road instead of the left one at this particular point. And if the execution agency equally widens the road from both sides at this spot, the tomb will be affected due to vibration of machinery at the time of construction and flow of traffic after the completion of the project,” he explained.

LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed said a committee of officials and experts had already been constituted with the name of the Lahore Canal Heritage Park Act.

“Though we welcome suggestions of the civil society, we think that the committee will adequately look into affairs related to trees, their care and management and other environment issues in the city,” he added.

He said under the master plan, the authorities concerned would plant 30,000 new trees and most of them would be fruit trees.

He said the committee comprising 11 members had already started implementing the project of planting 30,000 new trees on major city roads, including the Canal Road.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2015

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