KARACHI   -     Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and former PTI Karachi President Khurrum Sher Zaman demanded that both Sindh Government and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) improve existing playgrounds and green spaces and also create more such spaces for the people of Karachi.

Zaman was skeptical regarding current commitments and public announcements by Sindh government to create more parks, green spaces and urban forest in Karachi, as its track record of the past 11 years indicates apathy towards development of Pakistan’s premier megacity.

“Karachi similar to other mega cities around the world has become a concrete jungle and thus, the need for open green spaces is enormous. Since 2015, Karachi has been experiencing heat waves due to climate change, deterioration of green spaces and greater construction activity leading to blocking of natural wind flow.”

The PS-110 MPA noted that the clean Karachi campaign by Federal Minister Ali Zaidi exposed the dismal conditions of open spaces in Karachi.

Sadly, they have literally become garbage transfer stations and in some neighborhoods, playgrounds have been taken over by encroachments of various kinds. Moreover, in other areas, open green spaces have been completely abandoned or shut down because there is nobody to maintain them.

“The total share of green space visible in satellite imagery has declined from 4.6% in 2001 to 3.7% in 2013 while huge tracts of vacant land in major areas in the city center are closed off to the public and neglected.”

Sher Zaman mentioned that the University of North Carolina conducted a study of urban vegetation of 16 cities around the world, which revealed that Karachi as the city with the lowest percentage of green areas, with only 3.06% of its urban land covered with vegetation, whereas the highest recorded percentage share of green spaces belonged to London, with 53%.

“In addition to development of greenspaces, attention is required for restoration of footpaths in main commercial areas and busy corridors, as they are either broken down, converted to unregulated parking areas, or used for dumping trash to the detriment of pedestrians.”

The PS-110 MPA mentioned that in the recent past, better maintenance of playgrounds and open green spaces occurred when the local governments throughout Sindh were empowered. He strongly urged Sindh Government to amend the existing local government law to devolve power and authority to local bodies and establish Provincial Finance Commission without further delay.