LAHORE: The provincial capital which has lost over 2,200 trees due to various infrastructure development projects within a short span of last two years, is set to lose 1,700 more trees due to another mega project to be launched within this year.
According to documents, the city lost over 2,100 trees due to three projects since August last. The projects are Rs2 billion Signal-Free Corridor Project (from Gulberg’s Liberty roundabout to Shadman via Jail Road), over Rs160 billion Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project and about Rs1.5 billion Canal Road Widening Project.
The Signal Free Project consumed 196 trees along the route from Liberty roundabout to Shadman’s Fawara Chowk. For the ongoing Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project, 620 grown-up trees were felled on its 27.1km long route from Dera Gujran to Ali Town. The authorities have also started uprooting about 1,300 trees for Canal Road widening project at three stretches.
For the Link Canal Road from Punjab University land Via Kareem Block, completed about two years ago, 120 trees, a majority of them of mango, were removed.
2,200 already cut in two years
Likewise, another mega project -- Elevated Expressway Project from Gulberg to Motorway --- which is also likely to be launched in coming months will also cause uprooting of over 1,700 trees. This project will start from Babu Sabu (Motorway M2) and end at Zafar Ali Road/Main Boulevard, Gulberg, along the Cantt drain. It consists of three packages, Package-I, Package-II and Package-III. The amended EIA of the project contains satellite imagery of the project route measuring 10.7km while elevated road would have width of 31 metres. “The project is located in urban settings which has a variety of trees along the existing road and drain. For the construction of this project, almost 1,715 trees will be removed,” reads the project’s EIA report.
The local names of trees cut in the wake of various projects include Bakain, Jammin, Lemon, Mulberry, Shareen, Sheesham, Kikar, Rubber Plant, Simal, Berry, Guava, Neem, eucalyptus, Katha/Khair, Phulai, Evergreen and White Siris.
Keeping in view the situation, the civil society activists have already demanded an independent tree care authority. “Since the issue is very important, Lahore needs an independent tree care authority that should have complete record of all trees,” Prof Dr Ajaz Ahmad, Lahore Conservation Society’s secretary information, said. He also sought audit of all planted and cut trees.
According to Prof Dr Ghulam Abbas Anjum, the government must ensure an effective monitoring of the trees pledged to be planted against the uprooted ones. “Everyone knows well the importance of trees. It is a dire need of the hour to thoroughly check that whether the departments/officials concerned are planting five or 10 times more trees against the felled trees,” he said.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Naseemur Rehman (Director Environment) said the department is against cutting of even one tree. “But some unavoidable circumstances, such as development projects, force us to take such steps (cutting of trees). We also admit that the set standard/parameters of pollution in city is on higher side due to various projects these days—mainly the orange line,” he explained. But the environment situation would improve soon after completion of the projects, he hoped.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2016