ISLAMABAD - Around 4,000 trees in Islamabad have so far been uprooted for clearing way for the multi-billion rupees Metro Bus Project with Capital Development Authority (CDA) all set to auction the wood of over 500 tall trees including pines, eucalyptus and paper mulberry trees.
Official sources told The Nation on Sunday that more trees would be rooted out when digging work would kick off along Jinnah Avenue after clearing 9th Avenue also known as Agha Shahi Avenue where the green belts on both sides have been levelled.
“So far 3,500 under size (below 4 inch) have been rooted out besides cutting down 450 grown trees including pines, eucalyptuses and paper mulberries. We have put on display some trees for auction,” Director Public Relations CDA Asim Khichi informed.
But sources in the environment wing of the civic agency said the number of trees pulled up was much bigger than being told by authorities adding that thousands of trees that would have been relocated at other places in the capital, were cut down due to unavailability of proper tree plucking machinery.
The sources said that just two years back during the construction of Zero Point Interchange, the CDA had plucked out pine trees in the capital for relocation at other sites, but this time, the tall whispering trees were cut down into pieces ahead of auctioning them.
Khichi acknowledged that the mature trees including pines would be auctioned adding most of the trees had been put on display for public sale to the highest bidder and clarified that the small trees would be replanted somewhere else in the capital.
The multi-billion rupees project initiated by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) is aimed at facilitating the commuters in Rawalpindi-Islamabad, however, the venture has also invited the ire of opposition parties and civil society activists to what they fear would prove a disaster for the environment besides involving huge public money.
Senator Mushahid Hussain, PML-Q stalwart who has also filed an adjournment motion in Senate against the project, told The Nation that his move in the upper house of Parliament was being opposed by government hence discussion was still going on.
According to officials, the environment directorate of CDA would get one percent of the total cost of the project in Islamabad portion so that the money could be utilized on restoring the green beauty in the capital.
Sarwar Bari, a civil society activist, said that the project would engulf the means of livelihood of thousands of poor vendors as over 1400 stalls in G-9 Sunday Bazaar would be demolished to give way to the buses.
Meanwhile, on the directions of CDA Maroof Afzal, work on up-gradation plan of the civic agency’s nursery at Chak Shahzad was initiated on Sunday aimed at introducing new seasonal flowers in the federal capital.
Member Environment Mustafain Kazmi, who spends sleepless nights these days for answering the questions raised by opposition members on the threats posed to the environment of the city in the wake of the metro bus service, said in a statement issued here that the federal capital would be given more green cover this season.
He said that the nursery spread over 35-acre of land would not only meet the requirements of tree plantation campaigns in the city but would also meet the requirements of all kinds of plants for other institutions.