Logs seen lying in F-9 Park in Islamabad. — Photo by the writer
Logs seen lying in F-9 Park in Islamabad. — Photo by the writer

ISLAMABAD: One of the most attractive public parks in the federal capital - Fatima Jinnah Park commonly known as F-9 Park - may lose attraction due to unchecked cutting of trees.

It has become a routine that trees are cut down and shifted from the park. Even a wall/fence near Mehran Gate has been broken for the shifting out of logs.

On the other hand, no one takes notice of the issue as Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) are at loggerheaded over the distribution of resources.

However, MCI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Humayun Akhtar claimed that no trees were chopped in the park. He said the wall near Mehran Gate could not be repaired as the MCI lacked resources.

Mafia involved in chopping trees and taking out logs from park, citizens say

F-9 Park attracts a large number of visitors, including tourists from across the country. Spreading over 759 acres, the park has beautiful jogging tracks and a children’s area.

Dr Shahid Ansari, a retired government officer, who daily walks in the park, said a mafia was involved in the cutting of trees.

“The trunk of a tree is cut off gradually till it falls on the wall from where it is dragged at an appropriate moment. The timber mafia brings poor women from nearby villages on a daily basis to cut wood and collect branches. At times they are helped by men as well. The visitors to the park are witness to the women carrying stacks of wood and crossing the park’s walking tracks right under the nose of security guards. They deliver the wood to pickups and motorbikes near the park’s broken boundary wall at several places on the left side of Mehran Gate facing G-9 towards Blue Area,” he said.

“Big fallen trees can be seen at several places in the jungle area of the park and disappear next day probably taken out at some later hours of night through the broken areas and park authorities have no intention to repair them. Deforestation at such a large scale would have a bad effect on biodiversity of the park,” he said.

Another resident, Mohammad Naeem, told Dawn that the MCI should do numbering on the trees because it had become easy for the mafia to cut trees and shift them at nights. He said if a record of trees is maintained the activities of the timber mafia could be checked.

“The prime minister has launched a spring tree plantation drive from Mianwali and planting of trees is the ruling party’s manifesto. However, unfortunately Pakistan has the highest deforestation rate in the world. Departments should control the timber mafia that is politically connected,” he said.

“It should be made mandatory for all public sector institutions to plant saplings every year according to the land available with them. Moreover, strict action should be taken against elements involved in chopping of trees,” he said.

But CEO Akhtar said though ideally numbering of trees should be done, it was not practically possible.

“We do numbering of those trees which have to be cut due to different reasons such as they become dry or fell by themselves,” he said.

When asked about the broken fence near Mehran Gate, Mr Akhtar said MCI lacked resources due to which it was not possible to repair the wall/fence.

The MCI and CDA are at loggerheads over the issue of resources. After observing growing tension between the two institutions, Senate Chairman Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani recently formed a four-member special committee to look into the issue. The committee is headed by Senator Syed Mushahid Hussain Sayed while Senators Dr Shahzad Waseem and Mohammad Ali Khan Saif are its members. The interior minister will be an ex-officio member of the committee while additional secretary Senate Hafeezullah Sheikh will be its secretary.

The committee has been tasked with reviewing and examining the jurisdiction issue between CDA and MCI.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2020

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