Chopping down trees: Court seeks comments of parks director

Petitioner alleges govt has not complied with undertaking given in top court

Our Correspondent January 13, 2017

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has sought the comments of the Lahore Parks and Horticultural Authority head on the chopping down of trees for construction of different development projects.

On Friday, Justice Ayesha A Malik directed Shakil Ahmed to file his reply by the last week of February on a petition of Advocate Sheraz Zaka against the felling of trees for Metro Train’s Orange Line, signal-free corridor and the widening of Canal Road.

The petitioner argued the Punjab government gave an undertaking in the Supreme Court that for every tree cut, the authorities would plant 10 trees. But this undertaking was never complied with.

Advocate Sheraz contended the fundamental rights of citizens were at stake and Lahore was becoming one of the most polluted cities in the world due to the cutting of trees and also due to the increasing pollution.

He added 620 trees were cut down for construction of Orange Line and widening of Canal Road from the Doctors Hospital to Thokar Niaz Baig and in the outskirts of Harbanspura. In the name of development, the government was turning Lahore into a concrete jungle, he alleged.

To ensure biodiversity and food security in Punjab, the government should formulate and implement the Punjab Forest Policy to enhance the forest cover up to 25% and take actions to stop deforestation, the petitioner said.

Sheraz had also requested the court to issue notices to the chief minister but the judge declined the request, remarking that questions should first be asked from the PHA.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2017.


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