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January 9, 2017

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Can dusty, congested Peshawar be made ‘city of flowers’ again?

Can dusty, congested Peshawar be made ‘city of flowers’ again?

Far more important is to supply safe drinking water to citizens

PESHAWAR: This city was once the famed "city of flowers" as we have heard and read, but every effort made by successive governments to revive its greenery and flowers failed to make an impact.

The present provincial coalition government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its two allies, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), is making a determined effort to clean Peshawar and make it green.

Its most recent week-long cleanliness drive was named "Guloona Pekhawar" to make the point that flowers, called "guloona" in Pashto, and Peshawar, known to the Pakhtuns as "Pekhawar" were synonymous. Peshawar of yore was associated with flowers as described by warriors and writers, but this is part of history and has not much relevance with present-day Peshawar.

Peshawar today is a dusty and polluted city. It has spread on all sides without much planning. Its population has grown rapidly and its overburdened civic services cannot cope with the demand due to influx of people coming from the tribal areas and districts.

Flowers still grow in parts of Peshawar, especially in its Cantonment area, in the city's 13 parks, in newer localities like Hayatabad and in nearby villages such as Bazidkhel, Sulemankhel and Landi Arbab.

However, it is nowhere close to be called the "city of flowers" once more. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was right when he said while launching the cleanliness drive that Peshawar isn't the "city of flowers" that we keep hearing. Instead, he disclosed that 80 percent of the population in Peshawar is being supplied polluted drinking water that is causing most of the diseases.

In the flow of his speech, the chief minister claimed that the 135 gardeners hired for the city's 13 parks didn't plant a single sapling due to lack of accountability. He said the PTI-led government in right earnest launched the campaign to make Peshawar clean and green. In fact, he alleged that no previous government introduced any reforms to improve Peshawar's civic services and beautify this oldest city in Pakistan.

He also mentioned the setting up of the company, Water and Sanitation Service Peshawar (WSSP), to undertake the city's uplift and cleanliness.Chief Minister Pervez Khattak is so enamoured of the WSSP experience that he wants to extend this service to six other cities. Mardan has already got one such company and it is trying to make a difference.

The chief minister even tried to bring elected representatives under pressure by asking the people to throw their garbage in front of their houses if they don't make an effort to keep their localities clean.However, growing plants and flowers and protecting the saplings would require the involvement and cooperation of the citizens of Peshawar.

The people were advised by the chief minister to grow flowers and plants at their houses. Many are already doing it and others would do so if the chief minister as promised makes available free saplings.

That would help make parts of the sprawling Peshawar metropolis a "city of flowers" in due course of time.

However, more important than growing flowers is ensuring supply of safe drinking water to the citizens of Peshawar. This is something only the government is capable of doing.

 

 

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