KARACHI: As the People and Nature Initiative (PANI) begins its efforts to transform Nehr-e-Khayam into a public park, a plantation drive was kicked off at the contaminated canal on Sunday.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar said that it was his dream to beautify the canal and turn it into a gift for the city. "When I became the mayor, the residents of the area complained about the pollution," he recalled. "For the last three years, we have been planning to clean it and convert it into a better space for the public; architects suggested the solution to us."
He said that when he ordered the removal of encroachments from both sides of the canal, he was accused of trying to seize the land. However, he said, the Sindh chief minister had believed in him and did not pay any heed to this 'propaganda.'
The mayor further claimed that the state of parks in the metropolis had improved, citing the example of Kidney Hill Park, where 30,000 trees were recently planted.
Asserting that the Sindh government valued public-private partnership programmes, adviser to the CM Murtaza Wahab said that the provincial cabinet had approved a 30-year grant for the Nehr-e-Khayam project. "The Sindh government is with the people in working for the environment," he said. "They will work together to solve problems."
Meanwhile, provincial minister Nasir Hussain Shah added that the provincial government would support developmental projects in the city.
According to PANI head Jameel Yousuf, 165 trees have been planted along the sides of the Nehr-e-Khayam, which will not only benefit the environment but also beautify the space. Residents and students from schools in the area joined in to help plant the trees.
Earlier this month, the Sindh government had signed an agreement with the NGO for the park's development.
PANI proposes to clean the sewage water flowing into the canal through sustainable reed-bed technology, while also planting hundreds of trees and bushes as well as constructing jogging tracks and viewing decks for the public.
For several years, sewage has been discharged into the stream, while waste disposal along its banks further exacerbated environmental hazards.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2020.
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