LAHORE: The Parks & Horticulture Authority (PHA) has decided to compile data of all the trees and saplings it owns in its controlled areas to assess the Lahore’s actual requirement and the authority’s initiatives to improve the situation and overcome related issues.
“We have no reliable data related to total number of saplings, plants/trees we have or lost in the Punjab capital. However, we have not felled even a single tree in Lahore during the last two years or so,” PHA Director General Jawad Qureshi told Dawn on Sunday.
“I also confirm that we have added one million plants/trees to the city’s ecosystem,” he claimed.
Mr Qureshi agreed that trees remained safe in the recent years partly because no major projects except Firdaus Market Underpass were launched during the last couple of years.
DG claims the authority didn’t fell a single tree in Lahore in last two years
He said one million saplings planted during the two years or so included 30pc fruit trees to attract more birds.
To a question, Mr Qureshi said in a bid to maintain the city’s ecosystem, the PHA would develop another 30 Miyawaki forests in various parts of the city.
“With addition of 30 more, the total number of Miyawaki forests in the city would cross the figure of 100. We have already developed 52 while 21 more in various housing schemes owned by the LDA are in the pipeline as the funds are to be approved by the LDA governing body. So after 30 more, the total number of forests would be 103,” Mr Qureshi explained.
He said the authority had also a plan to launch the project, titled “Green Waste to Compost” to keep the city trees, green areas etc healthy.
It is pertinent to mention that due to a number of development projects, Lahore has so far lost over 3,000 grown-up trees besides indigenous shrubs, bushes and grass that used to be a source of oxygen for humans, and the natural habitat of animals, birds, underground insects, etc. The city’s two projects, including Karim Block (Iqbal Town) and Gulab Devi underpasses, would also cause loss of another 45 grown-up trees.
The Lahore Orange Line Metro Train project took down 620 trees and herbs of various species such as arjun, dhak, mahwa, bahara, alstonia, ashoka, sheesham, alata, kenair, weeping willow, peepal, sumbal, berri, sukh chain and poplar. The Gulberg signal-free project (Liberty to Shadman Chowk) consumed 196 trees. Moreover, the authorities also uprooted about 1,300 trees, including several fruit trees, for the Canal Road widening project at three stretches.These included 657 trees from Canal View gate to Doctors’ Hospital to Sunflower Society (section-I, both sides), 69 from section-2 (both sides) from Dharampura to The Mall and 575 from section-3 (from Dharampura to Harbanspur). For the Link Canal Road, from the Punjab University land via Kareem Block, 120 trees, a majority of them mango trees, were also felled. Likewise, 64 trees were also cut down for laying a high-tension transmission line with heavy poles near Jallo along Canal Road last year. Several trees were cut for the Firdaus Market underpass project. The Lahore Metro Bus Project also took several trees.
However, 1,700 grown trees to be cut down for an expressway project from Gulberg to Motorway remained safe since the government dropped the project from its priority list due to lack of funds and litigation. Also, 60 grown-up trees, which were to be go down for Johar Town’s Main Boulevard (Khayaban-i-Firdausi) signal-free project, remained intact due to delay in launch of the project.
The Lahore High Court, last month, on a writ petition filed by the Judicial water Commission chairman retired Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi, took notice of the proposed plan of cutting down 45 trees due to a couple of development projects and stopped the authority from doing so.
“The LDA is restrained forthwith from cutting and felling the plantation and trees at Karim Block (Iqbal Town) and Gulab Devi (Ferozepur Road) projects. This order shall be conveyed by the learned Advocate General to the LDA Director General,” reads a recent court order.
According to the PHA DG, he had told the court that the authorities planted more trees than the uprooted/chopped ones.
“In recent hearings, I briefed the court that we are very conscious about loss of trees due to development projects, launched by LDA, or other departments. I also clearly told the court that I cannot guarantee whether or not the trees to be uprooted and replanted would survive fully,” he explained.
MCL: Lahore Commissioner retired captain Muhammad Usman on Sunday directed the metropolitan corporation to start lane marking on all city roads falling in its jurisdiction to make the motorists follow the designated lanes.
Meanwhile, a team sealed various city restaurants, halls and business premises for flouting the Covid-19 standard operating procedures, according to a spokesman.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2021