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Tuesday April 16, 2024

SC allows CDA to cut wild mulberry trees only

The chief justice, however, observed that they only want to know whether the forest was destroyed or certain trees were cut down

By Our Correspondent
March 05, 2024
A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad Pakistan. — AFP/File
A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to chop only wild mulberry (papers mulberry) trees and sought the names of persons to be appointed as experts and observers within three days.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa heard a suo moto case regarding chopping of trees in F-9 Park in the federal capital. The court directed the civic body to submit such proposals so that both the public and court have a confidence over it. The court further directed that the CDA must ensure the presence of its staff during the process of chopping of wild mulberry trees besides also ensuring that no other trees be chopped as well.

During the course of hearing Irfan Azam Khan, CDA Director General Environment, told the court that a contract was given to cut paper mulberry trees on an area of 55 acres, adding that 99 percent of paper mulberry trees were cut, as it were spreading pollen allergy in the city.

The chief justice, however, observed that they only want to know whether the forest was destroyed or certain trees were cut down.

“We are looking at the issue from the perspective of environment,” the CJP said and questioned as to how the contractor will know which tree was a wild mulberry. “They want wood, they will cut the tree that comes in front [of them],” the CJP remarked.

Lawyer Hasan Raza Raza told the court that the CDA gave an area of 700 meters to the contractor at Rs5.2 million for cutting the trees but it was extended to 55 acres.

The chief justice inquired about the trees that were chopped out. The CDA officials told the court that the wood was taken by the contractor. The CJP objected to the cutting by the contractor and said how many laborers CDA had? Why the trees were not cut by the CDA relevant staff?

The court was told that CDA Park Directorate had 1,500 and the Environment Directorate has 3,000 workers, adding that the CDA staff were not experts in cutting trees.

At this, the CJP said that despite the presence of the entire battalion, the trees were not cut, adding that the court would see as to how many experts the contractor had for thee work. HE questioned if the mulberry trees were so bad then why were they planted?

The CDA deputy director general said that during the establishment of Islamabad, mulberry seeds were brought from China and thrown in the city by plane, adding that environment-friendly trees were being planted instead of mulberry. Justice Isa said that while walking he wanted to uproot some dry trunks and plant a new tree, but was told that only the CDA could do that.

Justice Musrat Hilali said that if China gave us harmful seeds, wouldn’t there be allergies there? Environmental affairs expert Raza Bhatti told the court that in China, mulberry trees are planted in a controlled environment, not in public places.

The CDA had done what it was supposed to do. We cannot send them to jail now, but we want ensuring the protection of the environment and the relevant staff of CDA must be present while cutting trees,” the CJP remarked. Later, the court adjourned the hearing for date-in-office.