ISLAMABAD-Greenbelts that had been the hallmark of the Islamabad - The Beautiful, have started developing rough patches, mainly due to the increased use by the residents, facing mobility restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It is high time for the Environment Department of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) to come into action and start imposing heavy fines on those who had been illegally trespassing upon the facilities and dampening their glow and lustre. “The landscaping of greenbelts and parks is imperative to enhance beauty of the city, besides ensuring healthy environment to the residents who have already been battling with a global pandemic,” said Raja Shrafat from sector G-7 while talking to APP on Sunday.

Pointing out the casual upkeep of greenbelts, he said constant use by people, had adversely impacted the green-spots of the city, turning them into barren areas with their eco-unfriendly behaviours. He said some even dared to come with their animals and pets and let them freely graze. It was sheer violation of the environmental laws and should be dealt strictly, he added.

Sharafat urged the city authorities to rectify the situation by slapping fines on the violators.

“Growth of wild shrubs is also a major issue that gives greenbelts a rough look,” he said while calling for regular pruning of the greenbelts to enhance the clean and green environment. Umar Khan said Islamabad ranked second in the list of world’s most beautiful capitals half a decade ago, but had now been turned into an ‘uncharming’ place due to less focus on beautification initiatives.

“Garbage and bushes have become a common sight in the capital city, which negates the slogan- ‘Islamabad - The Beautiful’ and speaks about civic authorities’ passion for green environment,” he regretted. He said Islamabad was still ranked at top of other cities of country, but there was a dire need to take remedial steps on war-footing basis to ensure extensive beautification of the city.

Ajmal Khan, a resident, who especially came to the greenbelt near sector F-6 along with his friends, said this was a perfect place to enjoy cool evenings during these days of coronavirus pandemic.

“It is not easy to spend evening time indoor as we live in a very congested locality,” said Yusuf Maseeh from G-6, justifying the use of greenbelt as a recreational spot.

“We have been utilising all the resources at our disposal to ensure the maintenance of greenbelts across the capital city,” MCI Director Environment Irfan Niazi told APP. He said trimming of shrubs and grass at the greenbelts and parks was being done on regular basis. Actions against the violators were also being taken, he added.

He asked the residents to avoid any damage to the greenbelts in sectors. He said the department was unable to upgrade its machinery due to the shortage of funds.