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February 6, 2015

Rare trees murdered for Bagh-e-Jinnah sewer


February 6, 2015

IN a ruthless manner, decades old historical trees have been uprooted and cut to construct a sewage channel which ignited a heated debate among environmentalists who thought that there was no need to cut these trees.
The trees were cut to construct a concrete drain, which crossed the entire garden (from The Mall to Lawrence Road). The environmentalists said trees were habitat for the resident bats of the garden, which were now dislocated.
Prof Dr Aminul Haq, ex-Dean of Sciences GCU Lahore, said the entire garden was surrounded by a sewage channel, which was traversing across the garden and could easily be cleaned up after some basic treatment and removal of sludge. He said building up such a huge elevated structure in the middle of the garden was unnecessary and could be avoided. Dr Aminul Haq, who is a botanist and ecologist, witnessed the slaughter of these historical trees. Talking to The News, he said ‘I have counted about 72 logs of different species of plants and taken photos in a hurry because there is a possibility that the garden administration might remove all the traces of evidence.’ He said it was sad to see the way they have planned the whole affair.
Jamil Ahmed, a regular visitor of the garden said the new drain was about 12ft deep and 14ft wide and at places 4ft higher than ground. He said he had spotted over 100 trees, which were uprooted and cut. He said originally Bagh-e-Jinnah was an agricultural land owned by Baba Anayat, who was Ustad of Baba Bulleh Shah. After the construction of Governor’s House during the Colonial rule, the land was converted into a botanical garden.
Environmentalists said that Lahore’s vegetation before introduction of canal irrigation system was deserted thorn forest and canal irrigation system made it favourable to introduce species from tropical countries.
Dr Aminul Haq said most of Pipal, Borh, Sheeshum, Alstonia, Aarjun, Mesquite, Shrin, Palms, Maulsury, Bottle-brushes, Kafur,

Cycads, Taxodium, Pistacio, Phoenix and Eucalyptus and many fruit trees and shrubs were grown here. He said some of the trees planted at that time could still be spotted in Bagh-e-Jinnah.
Talking about the environmental impact of Bagh-e-Jinnah, he said, ‘Jinnah Garden is situated on 141 acres at this time, earlier, it was in 176 acres but the land was given to Lahore Zoo, botanical garden govt college university Lahore and to roads alongside the garden. Now it is almost the plant area except roads building is 121 acres.’ Regarding the ecological aspects, he said, this is the only garden and park in the vicinity of Lahore that gives pure and pollution-free air to breathe. This park is a sink of air pollutants like VOCs, SOx, NOx and particulate matter.
Rafia Kamal, Environmentalist and Landscape ecologist said the green cover of Lahore had already been reduced to approx 2 percent due to cutting of trees in various areas of Lahore in the name of urban expansion. She said according to international standards, the required green cover of this region should be 25-30 percent. Rafia said green cover could only be increased and enhanced through planting trees, shrubs and herbs to make Lahore a green city. She raised serious concerns over cutting of trees in Bagh-e-Jinnah and said the move had jolted the environmentalists across the city. ‘We will take up this issue to the highest level,’ she concluded.

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