KARACHI: As green cover continues to dwindle in Karachi, non-governmental organisation Shehri - Citizens for a Better Environment kicked off its Million Trees Campaign at Mazar-e-Quaid on Saturday in a bid to increase the number of trees in the city.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Shehri member Sameer Hamid Dodhy says the environment in Karachi is under threat from the creeping concrete. In such times, he says, the citizens of Karachi, under the banner of Shehri, are trying to make a change. "Everybody expects the government to do something but we are requesting the people to take action," he says. "Our challenge to each citizen of this city is to plant or take care of one tree at least."
Recalling last year's deadly heatwave, Dodhy says had there been enough trees in Karachi, hundreds of lives could have been saved. "Our request to all citizens is to take care of trees and trees, in return, will take care of them," he says.
As volunteers of all age groups plant one tree after another, Dodhy hopes more people will join the cause as the word gets around. "We want citizens to make an effort and start planting trees in their houses and neighbourhoods," he stresses.
Accompanying school-going children, housewife and volunteer Soheba Mohammad says she and her family are here early in the morning as they want to make Karachi a cleaner and greener city. "We want to bring the temperature down and we want to invite the rains," she says.
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While managing a small army of gardeners at the mausoleum, gardening chief Mushtaq Ahmed appreciates the efforts of the volunteers. "We ourselves plant trees here but this space was left out because of some ongoing construction work," he says. "Now, because of the campaign, even this area will be greener."
As part of the campaign, Dodhy says members and volunteers will keep tabs on how the 100 trees planted at the mausoleum are taken care of. He says all residents of Karachi should do the same in the areas they live and work in. "If someone plants a tree, they should monitor it and also see if other existing plants are doing well or not," he says.
Volunteer Mohammad agrees. "As with everything in Karachi, follow-ups are very important," she stresses, adding that she will come back to check on the trees planted here. "We are committed to the tree movement and we absolutely plan to come back and see how our plant is doing."
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Chief gardener Ahmed also assures his team members will take care of the trees. "Two people are dedicated to watering these trees regularly and others are responsible for maintenance work," he says. "This is our job."
For eager volunteers who wish to see their trees grow up, Ahmed says the species planted today, which include imli [tamarind] and Neem, will be fully grown in three to five years' time.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2016.
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