Oxygen factories: The million-rupee industry thriving along Karachi streets

Published: June 6, 2014
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These nurseries established along main thoroughfares in Karachi provide a lucrative source of income for their owners besides giving the environment a more pleasant feel. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

These nurseries established along main thoroughfares in Karachi provide a lucrative source of income for their owners besides giving the environment a more pleasant feel. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: It is an undeniable fact that trees and vegetation are necessary for our survival. Besides the obvious reason that they produce the oxygen that we breathe, trees also give the atmosphere a pleasant feel and help conserve the environment against soil erosion and other hazards associated with climate changes.

In a city such as Karachi, where land is the most precious commodity, there is little space left to have huge stretches of trees, especially in district Central. An alternative, devised by some clever mind a long time ago, was to allow nurseries to develop along the sides of major roads. These would help control air pollution, as well as stop land grabbers from encroaching precious land.

The benefits of these nurseries, as Farid Ahmed found, were plenty.  When Ahmed came to Karachi looking for work, he met Sharifuddin who was helpless in the face of the transport mafia that had encroached the front wall of his house in alHilal Society and built a bus stop. They both decided to help each other out.

Sharifuddin allowed Ahmed to build a nursery along the front wall. Now Ahmed had a job and Sharif had a beautiful nursery in front of his house. “Those transporters had ruined our private lives,” recalled Sharifuddin. “There was so much noise pollution and they parked their vehicles right in front of our house.”

These nurseries established along main thoroughfares in Karachi provide a lucrative source of income for their owners besides giving the environment a more pleasant feel. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

AlHilal society is located adjacent to the Old Sabzi Mandi, where the city administration developed a park after relocating the market to Super Highway. The authorities had been, however, helpless against the transport mafia, who refused to shift their terminal outside the city at that time.

“Now, the area has been cleared of all kinds of encroachments and the nursery and park present a beautiful aesthetic view of the area,” said Farid Ahmed.  “Added to this is the fact that the nursery is a source of bread and butter for me and my family.”

Lucrative business

Nurseries have been established at several green belts and islands across the city. These nurseries not only benefit the environment but are also a lucrative source of income for their owners. “Can you imagine this small plant will fetch as much as Rs1.2 million?” remarked a nursery owner, Abid Paracha, pointing to a bonsai plant. He added that the prices of plants such as cacti, palms and bonsai generally ranged between Rs100 to Rs0.2 million. “Imagine plants worth millions of rupees growing along the city’s footpaths.”

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Parks director, Tahir Durrani, explained to The Express Tribune how the system operated under the rules of the parks and horticulture department. “Contractors are issued a temporary licence for the nursery for which they are charged Rs3,000 per month for every 1,000 square yards.”

According to Durrani, around 82 major nurseries are operating along various roads that fall under the KMC’s jurisdiction. These include Shaheed-e-Millat Road, Sharae Faisal, University Road, Safoora Goth, Rashid Minhas Road, Karsaz Road and Korangi Road.

The other nurseries which fall under the district municipal corporations’ jurisdiction operate according to the rules of the respective DMCs. An estimated 5,000 nurseries have been established along different streets and thoroughfares of the city, Durrani claimed.

“We are making the city beautiful by allowing private contractors to establish nurseries on the city’s roads while generating revenue at the same time.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Random Passerby
    Jun 6, 2014 - 12:17PM

    An alternative, devised by some clever mind a long time ago, was to allow nurseries to develop along the sides of major roads.

    Now, if only someone could track down this genius. He\She deserves accolades from the citizens of Karachi

    Recommend

  • Hitler
    Jun 6, 2014 - 3:57PM

    Splendid. Please we have to spread this knowledge all over Pakistan. There will always be conflicts but environment and our future generations must not suffer for our carelessness and not giving a damn about anything but ourselves!

    Recommend

  • just_someone
    Jun 6, 2014 - 6:09PM

    One of the few things I loved about Karachi’s chaos was that there were nurseries along street with gorgeous greenery.
    Hopefully they will flourish further.

    Recommend

  • shahid
    Jun 6, 2014 - 8:01PM

    What have you guys done ???? Why did you print this story so all will know something good is being done in my Pakistan ??? Now, the Bhatta Khors will start extorting weekly or monthly money from these poor people trying to earn a honest living and making environment and surrounding s healthy and beautiful; OMG what a folly by announcing another area to be looted and destroyed by the political parties of the region; .

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  • N.Siddiqui
    Jun 6, 2014 - 10:29PM

    The KMC horticulture department need to put it acts together. The millions of rupees spent on developing model parks have made the parks looks like Shadi halls, they were better earlier with big trees, now big trees are cut in favor of decorative shrubs and man made fiber canopies which looks ugly.
    Parks need to have big shady trees, and not decorative shrubs. Parks need to have local trees like gul mohar, neem, badam, lignum, banyan, amaltus, ashoka and not an imported variety like Cornicarpus imported from Ethiopia. Local birds have all but gone with that alien variety.
    And let the trees grow big. They just keep on cutting and trimming trees and not let them grow above 3 feet. Big shady trees are needed. No decoration…no man made structures.

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