KARACHI - The National Highway Authority (NHA) and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) have chopped down some 5820 fully grown trees along Super Highway to construct a section of the motorway between Karachi and Hyderabad.

In a statement issued here on Monday, National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) President Muhammad Naeem Qureshi said that the unscrupulous act of NHA and FWO didn’t at all take into account the environment around the Super Highway.

“Moreover, it is said that police stations in Gadap and Malir are not ready to register the First Information Report (FIR) against the accused despite complaints by field officials of the Sindh Forest Department,” he regretted.

The NFEH president said that in the previous year too, some 1440 Neem and other fully grown trees had been cut down also near the Super Highway to expand the area for annual market of sacrificial animals.

“The district administration and officials of Cantonment Board Malir at that time also didn’t take any action,” he recalled.

“In a recent instance, the trees, which were chopped down had been replanted some ten years back by Forest Department in the area along Super Highway from Wadi-a-Hussain Graveyard up till Karachi Toll Plaza,” he said, and added, “The trees were cut down by contractors constructing M-9 of the Super Highway despite protests by area people and officials of the Forest Department.”

Qureshi said that although cutting down of trees without any prior intimation or making alternative arrangements was a cognizable offence. “But uprooting of trees for expanding highways or carrying out work on other civic projects has become a norm in Karachi without any action against unscrupulous officials and contractors of such projects,” he lamented.

“In the last 10 years, Karachi and its surrounding areas have witnessed cutting down of some 45,000 trees due to work on new development projects,” he said, and added, “The station house officer of Malir Cantt Police Station, instead of registering an FIR has forwarded the complaint to Legal Department of police for further advice.”

He further said that the contractors associated with government-owned civil works organisations; especially those led by military officials should be made bound to follow rules for the perseveration of environment and greenery in the area of their respective projects.

He informed that according to the rules there should be five times more plantation in an area where trees have been cut down.

The NFEH president also appealed to the concerned citizens to take up the issue and protest at every level, adding that disappearance of greenery was causing serious environmental and health issues for Karachiites.