At a time when environmentalists have forecast a severe heat wave in the metropolis this summer, others are ruthlessly chopping down trees for commercial benefits.
The greenbelt at Shaheed-e-Millat road near Bahadurabad Intersection bears a sorry sight after around 70 trees were recently cut down in front of a multi-storey residential building constructed by a private company.
As the incident was brought to light, commissioner Asif Hyder Shah took notice, following which an FIR was registered at the Ferozabad police station against the Gohar group of companies on the complaint of Nadeem Ahmed, deputy director at the Parks and Horticulture department. The company has constructed the residential building.
The FIR has been registered under sections 379, 427/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 132 of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.
Ahmed, the complainant, told The Express Tribune he’s 100% sure that the beneficiary of the trees cutting is the Gohar group, adding that it now depends on how the police pursue the case.
Zubair Yaqoob, media director for the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD), said according to his sources Gohar group is not involved. However, he claimed ABAD will impose a fine on them in case they are found guilty.
Naseerullah, a boy working at a tyre shop near the building, alleged the builders of the residential structure want to make parking space for customers of their shops located at the ground floor.
The commissioner said he takes the matter very seriously as the city already lacks a sufficient quantity of green cover. Professor Dr Zafar Iqbal Shams of Institute of Environmental Studies at University of Karachi said the city needs trees and plants on an urgent basis. “Karachi is now a concrete jungle, which increases the city’s temperature by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius,” he said.
Iqbal said the trees that have been chopped down take 10 to 15 years to grow completely.
Ferozabad SHO Sohail Khan said they are investigating the incident, and have conducted a few raids to arrest the suspects but their offices are closed [on Sunday].
Raza Gardezi, president of the NGO, Shehri- Citizens for Better Environment, termed the incident a pitiless act, saying the civil society will highlight the ‘illegal act’ by protesting against it.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2016.