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The CDA cut trees, including pines that take decades to grow, to pave the way for the expansion of Attaturk Avenue and Embassy Road. — File photo
The CDA cut trees, including pines that take decades to grow, to pave the way for the expansion of Attaturk Avenue and Embassy Road. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: After cutting down over 200 trees along Attaturk Avenue, the city managers have lost their interest in the expansion of the road.

The CDA has not filed any appeal against the notice issued by the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) three months ago.

The environment watchdog had directed the civic agency in October to stop work on the project as the trees had been chopped without intimating the agency.

Sources said after Pak-EPA issued an environment protection order (EPO), the CDA did not submit details to contest it. In the meanwhile, work at the site remains halted for the last three months.

Pak-EPA issued notice to civic agency in Oct, but CDA is yet to file its response

When contacted, Member Engineering Shahid Sohail, said: “I do agree there is a delay on part of the CDA for contesting the EPO or furnishing the required information to Pak-EPA, but I am working on it and within a few days would submit the reply to Pak-EPA, seeking its clearance for resumption of the work.”

The CDA cut the trees, including pines, which take decades to grow to pave way for the expansion of Attaturk Avenue, commonly known as Embassy Road.

“First of all, the trees should not have been cut down. If there was a need the CDA could have opted for transplanting the trees which is a common practice the world over. Anyhow when the trees have been removed, there is no justification to suspend work on the road expansion,” said an official of the CDA who requested not to be named.

He said every year the CDA environment wing claimed that it had planted millions of new trees but on the ground the situation is different.

“An investigation is needed to know the exact number of trees the CDA has planted during the last 10 years,” he said.

Pak-EPA had in February 2016 granted approval to the CDA for the expansion of the road. But through a letter the environment agency had warned the CDA that in case of violation of the environment agency’s directives, it would proceed against the civic agency under Article 17 of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997.

Pak-EPA Director General Farzana Altaf Shah had told Dawn in October that the civic agency was supposed to submit a list of trees, including their ages and species, before cutting them, which the CDA did not.

Ms Shah said the CDA felled trees over the weekend in order to avoid an EPA action. Asked why Pak-EPA granted approval for the project, she said the expansion of the road was necessary and the CDA had chopped the trees from the right of way, not the greenbelts.

But it did not follow the required procedure, she added.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2018