KARACHI: Driving through the Mai Kolachi bypass, one is in for a pleasant surprise. There are newly-planted saplings lined on either side of the main road.
On closer inspection it was discovered that they were mostly fruit trees, including tropical almond, cheeku, jamun and mulberry trees. The remaining trees which do not bear fruit would grow up to provide plenty of shade as they happen to be neem and gulmohar trees.
Most of the trees bear white labels mentioning Project Rise, a Dawoodi Bohra initiative, as the donors of these trees.
‘God forbid, if a tree dies, we will also replace it’
Speaking to Dawn, Zohaib Tahir, a spokesman for the Dawoodi Bohra community, said that they had specially thought of planting indigenous trees along the road. “We wanted to plant local trees but among all the local species we selected the ones which we planted after consultation with horticulturists. We wanted to make sure which trees would do well in the area as it is quite near the coast too,” he said, adding that planted some 500 trees in the area.
“Then we wanted to plant more fruit trees,” he added. “The reason to be doing that was to bring back birds to the area. There are so many local bird species here which relish the fruits of these trees,” he said. “They may also build nests in the trees as all of them are going to grow up to be big bushy trees, providing ample shade.”
Asked why they didn’t think of planting mango trees when planting the other fruit trees, the spokesman laughed and said that then the people, especially kids, would stone the trees for the mangoes. When reminded that they would still be eating the cheeku, jamun, mulberries, etc, he said that would most probably be happening. “But the trees would provide fruit for all. The humans will take what they see and the birds will feed on what they can find,” he said.
He also said that till the saplings grow into trees and even afterwards they will all be the responsibility of the Bohra community which planted them. “We are watering them, providing fertilizer for them. And if, God forbid, a tree dies, we will also replace it,” he said.
“But for now we have nature on our side because after we planted the saplings last week, the Almighty sent us rain. It has really helped the saplings take root,” he added.
It is said that the trees would soon turn the Mai Kolachi Bypass into a model road with rows of shady, green, fruit bearing trees.
The beautifying of Mai Kolachi is a part of the Sindh government’s Green Karachi initiative. Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Law, Coastal Development, Climate Change and Environment Barrister Murtaza Wahab said they wanted to make Karachi a pollution-free metropolis as they plant hundreds of trees in different areas across the city.
A Karachi Port Trust spokesman said that while the trees have been planted by the Dawoodi Bohra community, the Karachi Municipal Corporation had taken the responsibility of repainting the footpath borders on the road.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2019