RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) has decided to lay artificial grass on road medians to give the appearance of greenery as part of its beautification efforts under the Green and Clean Pakistan campaign.
On The Mall, the main artery in the cantonment areas, the RCB has cemented greenbelts and laid artificial grass instead of planting trees and fresh grass, as envisioned by the campaign.
A senior RCB official told Dawn the civic body spent most of its funds constructing greenbelts in selective areas and failed to improve the condition of Saddar, the commercial hub of the cantonment.
He said pavements along Haider Road, Adamjee Road, Bank Road and Kashmir Road, as well as the roads themselves, need repairs but there are no plans to do so. Gardeners are busy tending to the private homes of civic body officials and elected members, he claimed, and do not have time to maintain greenbelts.
Cantonment residents said the RCB is beautifying selected areas only, and demanded that the board plant more trees in vacant plots.
Mohammad Talha, who lives on Saadi Road, said trees need to be planted along Kashmir Road and Adamjee Road, and there is space available in front of the Government Transport Service bus terminal, Messy Gate, Kamran Market and Marrir Chowk as well.
“Instead of allowing workshop owners to encroach on roadsides, the RCB can grow plants along the road in Saddar Bazaar. Saplings could be planted along Haider Road near the General Post Office. There are many sites that are vacant and need attention from the civic body,” he said.
Peshawar Road resident Ahmed Bilal said the new grass would give the cantonment an artificial appearance, and the area will be deprived of fresh grass and trees during the monsoon.
“Is it changing the climate? We are facing global warming, and instead of planting fresh plants the civic body has decorated roads with artificial grass and flowers,” he said.
He said the cantonment used to be known for its greenery and cleanliness, but now looks like a cement structure with bad sanitation.
RCB spokesperson Qaiser Mehmood could not be reached for comment. A senior RCB official said tree plantation work is ongoing in the cantonment, and more trees would be planted along Saddar’s main roads.
He said the RCB used artificial grass on road medians where grass could not grow.
The official said the RCB has also begun improving greenbelts along main roads and in the main squares of the cantonment area.
He said the RCB’s gardeners were working day and night to turn abandoned roadside spaces into lush greenbelts.
Palm trees have been planted in front of the General Post Office on Kashmir Road, and a plan to give Saddar a new look is ready, he claimed.
Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2019