Citizens of the federal capital gathered on Sunday to clean perhaps its most popular hiking trail, Trail-3 on the Margalla Hills.
Volunteers signed up with the cleanliness drive organised by Development Communications Network (Devcom) Centennial Leo Club (IDCLC) in connection with the eighth Pakistan Mountain Festival (PMF).
The annual festival is held to mark International Mountain Day (IMD) — which is held on December 11. This year, the festival is being supported by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP).
On Sunday morning, members of IDCLC and other volunteers along with Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) Deputy Mayor Zeeshan Ali Shah Naqvi and the Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director and the PMF founder Munir Ahmed gathered at the Margalla Hills Trail-3.
Naqvi said the local government of the city was all out to protect the green nature of the federal capital despite lacking the requisite funds.
In this regard, he said that the IMC will be implementing the Clean and Green Pakistan initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) without any discrimination of rural and urban areas.
He added that the IMC will encourage citizens’ engagement in the management and improvement of civic facilities in the city while engaging the youth in healthy and environment-friendly practices would be one of the priorities.
The deputy mayor announced that soon a cultural trail will be established from Shah Allah Ditta village, across the hills and into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as the region has significant Buddhist remains.
After the cleanup drive, Ahmed said participants had collected a large mass of waste, particularly a lot of plastic in the form of bottles, wrappers, shopping bags and food-packs which had been discarded along the trail. They had also found a lot of tins of soft drinks.
He lamented that people continue to litter the trail despite the fact that the Islamabad Wildlife Board has set up checkpoints along it.
Ahmed stressed the need for protecting the natural ecology and habitats of mountains for the sake of biological diversity, water and food security for human beings and other living species on the planet.
“The fragile mountain ecosystems are the lifeline of the living and breathing species including human beings, and they cannot be restored as actual if over-exploited once, therefore, we need to be more conscious to conserve them,” Ahmed said.
He urged the IMC to take more vigorous action against the degrading of the Magalla Hills National Park.
Earlier, during a weekly meeting organised by the C2D and Devcom-Pakistan, Islamabad Wildlife Board Chairman Dr Anisur Rehman had outlined tree-cutting, fire, loss of biodiversity, littering, water scarcity as the key challenges to MHNP.
Lack of human and financial resources are the main hurdles in spreading its work and control over the entire park, Dr Rehman had stated.
“We have controlled many violations but still need to work hard to save the MHNP from the mafias and cartels,” he stated.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2018.