Chopped down: Karachi loses its trees to growing ignorance

Published: November 29, 2013
Standing idle next to the butchered stubs of once lush green trees, 34 advertisement panels attached to street light poles on the boulevard that runs in front of Dolmen Center in Clifton are a sad reminder of the greed of the city government. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

Standing idle next to the butchered stubs of once lush green trees, 34 advertisement panels attached to street light poles on the boulevard that runs in front of Dolmen Center in Clifton are a sad reminder of the greed of the city government. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Imagine the Lahore city administration cutting down trees that line the city’s idyllic canal to make way for advertisements. Next to impossible, say Lahore residents. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will never allow it.

Sindh Chief Minister, on the other hand, not only allows the same in Karachi but looks the other way as thousands of trees are cut down by the city’s unrepresentative government stuffed with corrupt bureaucrats.

To add insult to injury, director of parks and horticulture department, Ashfaq Mallah, an unelected bureaucrat whose job is to protect trees, says he has not even noticed the cutting down of trees in different parts of the city. “I will check this tomorrow,” he says, when asked to explain.

In broad daylight, thousands of trees have been cut down in Karachi and the massacre continues daily. Outdoor hoarding companies say that they have permission but not to cut the trees. In different areas of the city, municipal employees chop down trees to make way for advertisements despite a court order that forbids this.

One such street, the boulevard that runs in front of Dolmen City Mall in Clifton, has seen almost 250 trees being cut down in three months to make way for advertisement panels.

Standing idle next to the butchered stubs of once lush green trees, 34 advertisement panels attached to street light poles are a sad reminder to the greed of the city government.

One resident said that the city has lost more lungs but no one has taken notice. “Nobody gets punished for such actions,” laments Anny Agha, a shopper who was waiting for her car outside the Dolmen mall. “People should run a campaign against it, otherwise the exercise of cutting trees will continue.”

Khateeb Ahmed, a member of NGO Shehri, said that such culprits should immediately be stopped through organised steps.  But so far no one has raised a collective voice. Instead the civic authorities are looking for excuses to cut down more trees. The cluster of overgrown trees became a hideout for criminals and drug addicts, claim some. This is the justification for more destruction.

Zubair Zaheer, the director of an advertising company, Outdoor Unlimited, said that the billboards were installed with the permission of the District Municipal Corporations (DMCs) as well as the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). The company was not involved in chopping down a single tree in the area, he clarified.

When asked who had cut the trees, Zaheer said that he was unaware about that and only DMC or KMC could answer that query. “I don’t know who has cut down the trees. It’s not my concern. I have paid tax to DMC and KMC for the hoardings.”

Zaheer said that he had no idea about the planning and strategy of the government departments, saying, “I have no issue if the trees are planted again in the area.”

Mallah, said that he had recently assumed charge and had no information about this issue. Mallah, however, assured that he would visit the site and would ask the relevant department of the DMC about the matter as the area falls under DMC South’s jurisdiction. “Advertisers can take permission for the sign boards but no one has permission to cut down trees. Cutting trees is a punishable crime.” So far no one has been punished.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (13)

    Nov 29, 2013 - 12:39AM

    Shameful, sindh PPP govt is hellbent on destroying karachi


  • True
    Nov 29, 2013 - 2:48AM

    Its really sad that we are destroying nature but when the government cant even protect the lives of the people of karachi, how and why would it even think about solving this issue


  • M. Emad
    Nov 29, 2013 - 5:38AM

    Karachi was a desert town. Bengalis (house wives) in 1950s and ’60s grew vegetable around their houses and gave capital Karachi a green touch. Karachi now return back to its original state.


  • Karachiette
    Nov 29, 2013 - 5:47AM

    Bring back MQM city government !!! ASAPPP!!!! We need Mustafa Kamal !!!


  • Taimoor
    Nov 29, 2013 - 8:08AM

    I like the little Shahbaz shariff shout out in there.


  • Stellar
    Nov 29, 2013 - 10:15AM

    People of the city should come out and protest on this blatant and hideous act. This is unimaginable in any civilized society. Trees are the lungs of the cities, they provide and replenish oxygen, removes toxic emissions like carbon monoxide, greatly decreases noise pollution, and are veritable plants to stop the decrease in ozone layer.
    People need to wake up and protest against this blatant act.


  • netizen
    Nov 29, 2013 - 10:21AM

    What a shame. It is going on in other parts of the city as well. Where is the Sindh government. Need to stop this with forthwith.Recommend

  • netizen
    Nov 29, 2013 - 10:25AM

    Boycott all products displayed on these ugly hoardings, pole signs and the newly developed small hoardings placed on the green belts. It will build pressure on the advertisers to act and stop this.


  • crusader
    Nov 29, 2013 - 10:32AM

    All hoardings, which makes the city hideous, dirty, cluttered and blocks the open views making it look congested and cramped should be removed and chopped.
    Trees are more important than the people can imagine. Sindh government should act, so should be the people.


  • N.Siddiqui
    Nov 29, 2013 - 10:37AM

    All hoardings should be chopped down and make the city open and less cluttered. Government need to act and stop this mayhem. People need to protest otherwise this will not stop.


  • Mohammmad Umar
    Nov 29, 2013 - 10:42AM

    what these greedy people and currpt govt officials dont realize cutting donw one tree is loss of 20 -30 years thats the time trees like neem reqire to mature so there is no replacemnt for those trees .


  • Indi.pendent
    Nov 29, 2013 - 11:13AM

    This is really pathetic and sad. Please protect the living trees. They are just like any other life forms. Cutting trees should be declared a punishable crime.


  • Professor
    Nov 29, 2013 - 1:28PM

    Who says that time travel is not possible? Look at Pakistan. It is fast going back in time.


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