LAHORE - The Lahore High Court yesterday directed the Parks and Horticultural Authority director general to explain as why they did not fulfilled their undertaking before the SC regarding plantation of new trees in the provincial capital.

Justice Ayesha A Malik of the LHC took up the petition challenging cutting of trees across the city for construction of mega projects including Orange Line Metro Train, Signal Free Corridor and widening of Canal Road.

During the hearing, Advocate Sheraz Zaka argued that the Punjab government had earlier assured the Supreme Court that for every cutting of tree, it would plant ten trees, but it had not fulfilled its undertaking yet.

The counsel argued that the fundamental rights of citizens were at stake and Lahore city was becoming one of the most polluted cities due to the cutting of trees and also due to the increasing pollutants in the form of green house gas emissions. The counsel said Punjab government’s mega projects had caused more deforestation.

He stated the forests provided a multiplicity of environmental services like recharging aquifers, sustain rivers, conserve soil, prevent floods and drought, provide habitat for wildlife and the ecological conditions for maintenance and natural evolution of genetic diversity of flora and fauna.

He stated the forests were considered the homes of traditional forest dependent communities. In addition, forests yield timber, fuel wood, and other forest produce, he said. He said trees are known as lungs of nature and cheapest natural source of consumption of the carbon dioxide at local, national and global level and are considered as carbon sinks.

He contended that the government should formulate and implement the Punjab Forest Policy to enhance the forecast cover upto 25 percent of the area of the province, to ensure biodiversity and food security in the province and take actions to stop deforestation.

He said 620 trees were cut down for construction of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project and widening of canal road from doctors hospital to Thokar Niaz Baig and in surroundings of Harbanspura area.

He submitted the government had been destroying the environment of the city as well as its beauty.  In 2015, the government issued its environmental policy about plantation of trees. But neither this Environmental Policy 2015 nor undertaking given by the Punjab government before the SC had been complied with, said the counsel.

At this, the judge issued notices to PHA DG and sought reply as why they were not fulfilled their undertaking before the SC regarding plantation of trees. The hearing adjourned till the last week of February.

BZU campus’ case

The LHC yesterday  directed Punjab government to come up with reply regarding its correspondence with Higher Education Commission Pakistan about approval for setting up sub campus of Bahaudin Zakaria University, Multan The court also sought details of the students who went to main campus of Bahaudin Zakaria University in Multan.