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Chopped wood being transported.
Chopped wood being transported.

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) are at odds once again, this time over the MCI’s use of the CDA letterhead while allowing for trees to be felled in two sectors.

CDA spokesperson Safdar Shah has alleged that the felling of a number of trees has become the subject of an inquiry by the security directorate, and also claimed this was a human rights issue.

Reports emerged on Saturday that the MCI had given permission for dry trees to be felled in I-9 and H-9, but instead green trees were cut down and the wood transported.

The MCI’s official letter also created confusion as the permission must have come from the environment wing – an ancillary department of the MCI.

The civic authority and the corporation are at odds over MCI’s ‘mistaken’ use of CDA letterhead

According to the letter, which is available with Dawn, the permission to cut these trees was given to a contractor, who submitted the highest bid of Rs224 per cubic feet plus 10.5pc tax for the removal of dry trees in I-9 and H-9.

The company was allowed to cut the trees within seven days of making its full payment of Rs44,688 and could move the wood out of Islamabad.

However images of the wood being transported triggered a debate over whether the trees that were felled were dry or green.

The CDA spokesperson said photographs clearly showed that the wood was from green trees, adding that it was strange that the authority’s letterhead was used to give permission.

“We have not only ordered an inquiry but also decided to recover the stolen wood. We have been doing plantation campaigns to increase the green area in the city, but on the other hand the MCI has allowed the cutting of trees.

“We are also looking into why the CDA letterhead was used for allowing trees to be chopped. According to us it was a violation of human rights, as trees not only provide fresh air but also control pollution and every person has the right to live in clean and fresh air,” he said.

Director Environment (West) Mohammad Irshad told Dawn permission was given to cut the trees because they were dry.

He said dry trees have fallen on vehicles and are also felled to be used as firewood, which was why “we prefer to auction them rather than leaving them to be cut by the public”.

He said: “We also received complaints on the prime minister’s portal to cut dry trees.”

Director General Environment Manzoor Shah said termites also attack dry trees, and then move from dry to green trees.

He said the dry trees were felled to protect green trees, and also said that the use of the CDA letterhead was a clerical error as the environment wing used to be part of

the CDA, and the old format, saved on the computer, was mistakenly used.

Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz said he has also sought a report from the environment wing. He said he was told the letter was issued because of a clerical mistake, adding: “There was nothing wrong in it and I have directed the environment wing to inform the CDA.”

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2019