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Wednesday February 21, 2024

‘Police refusing to lodge FIRs against cutting of trees for M-9 motorway’

By our correspondents
April 10, 2017

The National Highway Authority and the Frontier Works Organisation have chopped down around 5,800 trees along Super Highway to construct the M-9 section of the motorway between Karachi and Hyderabad, an environmental organisation said on Sunday.

In a statement, National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) president Muhammad Naeem Qureshi said the NHA and FWO did not take into account the environmental impact of their action before going ahead with it.

He added that police stations in Gadap and Malir were not lodging an FIR of the cutting down of thousands of trees despite complaints sent by field officials of the provincial forest department.

The NFEH president said that in the previous year too, some 1,440 Neem and other trees were cut down near Super Highway to expand the area for the annual market of sacrificial animals.

The district administration and officials of the Cantonment Board Malir at that time too did not take any action.

In the recent instance, the trees that were chopped down were planted around 10 years back by the forest department in the area along Super Highway from Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard till the Karachi Toll Plaza.

The trees were cut down by contractors constructing the M-9 Super Highway despite a protest staged by residents.

Qureshi said the cutting down of trees without any prior intimation or making alternative arrangements was a cognisable offence.

“Uprooting of trees for expanding highways and constructing other projects has become a norm in Karachi and no action is taken against unscrupulous officials and the contractors of such projects,” he added.

In the last 10 years, Karachi and its surrounding areas have witnessed the cutting down of around 45,000 trees because of development projects.

The NFEH president said contractors associated with government-owned civil works organisations especially those led by military officials should be bound to follow environment rules.

He said that according to the relevant rules, any area where trees were chopped down should see the plantation of tree saplings five times more than the number of uprooted trees.

The NFEH president also appealed to Karachi’s citizens to take up the issue and protest at every level against the cutting down of trees as the decreasing greenery was creating serious environmental and health issues for them.