The Lahore Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) is finding it difficult to fulfill its responsibility of providing a healthy environment and recreational facilities to the citizens due to shortage of funds and lack of interest of the official concerned.
About 80 per cent of parks across the provincial capital are in a dilapidated condition, while one six major ones are better maintained.
According to PHA Director General Jawad Ahmad Qureshi, a business plan has been prepared to overcome the shortage of funds. The amount generated by implementing the plan would be spent on the beautification of the city, he told The Express Tribune.
He said the authority’s first priority was to bring all the parks in the city to the A-category standard, adding that the work would be completed as soon as the required resources were available. Qureshi said the parks were being improved by utilising the available resources.
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In most areas of the city, the parks lack grass and green belts, while bushes are growing unchecked. The swings are also broken. The dream of a green Lahore also seems to be slipping away.
Although more than 7,000 gardeners and officers are receiving about Rs2.4 billion in salary annually, their work in most areas is negligible. According to some estimates, the population of Lahore city has crossed 15 million and the PHA had been assigned the responsibility by the Punjab government to ensure natural beauty and provide healthy recreational facilities to the citizens.
Lahore has 813 parks and 3,000 acres of green belts. For their protection and care, there are more than 7,000 employees. The top officers are provided luxury cars, mobile phones, fuel, medical and other facilities. The officers and staff are receiving about Rs2.4 billion rupees in annual salary. A budget of over Rs100 million has been reserved for the maintenance of parks and green belts. All the entrance and exit points of the city are also in a state of disrepair.
The major parks of the city like Jilani Park, Lawrence Garden, Iqbal Town, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Jallo Park and Greater Iqbal Park have been in a better condition but problems in their maintenance are also becoming evident. Especially the toilets and jogging tracks are starting to deteriorate. The number of trees appears to be decreasing instead of increasing.
The green belts along the main roads are beautiful, but the residential areas present a worse picture.
The PHA has divided the parks and green belts into seven zones with three directors and deputy directors in charge.
Director Misbahul Hassan Dar oversees Zone V, which includes Gulberg, Faisal Town, Raiwind, Southern Bypass, Khayaban Jinnah and Ring Road. Apart from the major parks, the condition of those in residential areas is not good. Director Farhat Abbas Shah is responsible for Zone II, including north Lahore, Gujjarpura and Shahdara, where the condition of parks is deteriorating the most.
Ali Nawaz Shah is responsible for Zone IV, which includes Samanabad, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Sunt Nagar, Sagyan, Babusabu and other areas. The Samanabad Ladies Park is better but the condition of other parks is worse. The condition of Sagyan Bridge Park is better but the condition of green belts is deteriorating.
Zahid Iqbal has been assigned the responsibility of director for Canal Road and Jallo Park. However, the Canal Road green belts have given way to homes and business centres. Shah Nawaz Wattoo is Zone III Deputy Director but working as Director for the areas of Tajpura and Ferozepur Road. The condition of the parks in the area is not good. The green belts in Tajpura, Sahafi Colony and Mughalpura are also showing signs of disrepair.
Zaheerul Hassan Shah is responsible for the VIP areas of Johar Town, Garden Town, University Road and Model Town in Zone I. The main roads and parks in Garden and Johar Town are good but the parks in the inner populated areas are not properly maintained. Ghulam Mustafa Shah, the Project Director of Gulshan Ravi, is responsible for monitoring parks and green belts in Raiwind, Faisal Town and Gulshan-e-Iqbal. The facilities in main Raiwind area are better maintained, while all other areas appear neglected.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2021.
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