Once renowned for its beauty, the Margalla Hills National Park has fallen prey to ruthless tree cutters who are depriving it of its beauty. This was said by National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) President Naeem Qureshi in a statement issued in Islamabad on Sunday.
He attributed the rise in temperatures in the city to the loss of trees, adding that tree plantations are national treasures “but the treasures are being looted with both hands”, especially in the absence of governance to prevent the practice.
Citing media reports, he criticised the reduction in guards to safeguard trees by half. He added that the reports revealed that Capital Development Authority (CDA) staff is also involved in tree cutting. “Who will protect our assets if the watchman becomes a thief?”
Terming the fine imposed for tree cutting negligible, Qureshi suggested raising the fine to a sufficient level and for it to be exercised in letter and spirit for it to be effective. He stated the areas behind the Faisal Mosque have begun to lose trees very quickly.
Qureshi maintained that areas adjacent to the heavily degraded Nupur Shahan are where the Margalla Hills are headed if the CDA does not become vigilant. The park is losing acacias, berry trees, Zizyphus and Kachnaar which are instead being replaced by wild bushes, harmful for flora and fauna, he noted.
“Some areas behind the Air Force and Navy colonies have been cleared and trees trimmed by armed forces to enhance visibility for security reasons,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2012.
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