Deforestation means end of tourism: SC

Bench says people will stop going to mountainous areas if natural beauty is lost


Our Correspondent October 15, 2020

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday warned that the tourism in Murree and Galyat would end in next five years if deforestation continued at the current pace.

The apex court sought details from the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) on plantation done so far along the river banks and streams and summoned all four provincial secretaries of forest and irrigation.

A three-member SC bench led by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed presided over the case regarding deforestation on the banks of rivers and canals.

The bench resented large-scale deforestation along rivers and canals across the country. It said that all trees in Kumrat and Swat valleys had been chopped down. It added that forests were being cut down in Murree and Nathia Gali as well.

If this pace of deforestation continued, the tourism industry in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) will come to an end in five years period, as the people visit the province to experience natural beauty, it remarked. The bench expressed that chopping down trees would also stop snowfall in the high altitude areas.

The court added that forests were nowhere to be seen along the Indus River and commented that the Sindh government handed over the riverine area to private entities for cultivation. “There should be trees all over the riverine area,” the bench said.

Further, the Additional Advocate General informed that some 200,000 saplings were planted on the court orders. At this, the chief justice said that the two-feet long saplings would be munched by the domestic animals, adding that the length of new plantations should at least be six-feet.

Justice Aijazul Hasan recalled that they had ordered the Sindh government to cancel the allotment of the riverine area but instead it legislated that the allotment already done would sustain. It is analogous to the protection of illegal allotment, Justice Hasan remarked.

The government’s counsel apprised the court that so far, some 40,000 saplings have been planted in Balochistan. The chief justice stated that tree plantation should not be on papers only. “The claims should be such that could be endorsed by a magistrate if checked,” he added.

The court sought details from the Islamabad administration on plantation done so far along the river banks and canals and summoned all four provincial secretaries of forest and irrigation

The hearing of the case was adjourned for a month.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2020.

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