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February 11, 2020

Tree politics at G-14

Islamabad

February 11, 2020

Islamabad:Two institutions, Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) and Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) were face to face with each other over plantation drive in G-14/4.

Under Prime Minister’s Clean and Green Pakistan, MCI planted saplings of pine trees along Kashmir Highway in G-14/4 a fortnight ago, which, basically houses Quaid-i-Azam University faculty and employees.

On Saturday, the FGEHF sent its staff to uproot the planted saplings, a move resisted by residents. Still, the uprooting staff succeeded in removing 30 plants but had to replant them when CDA Director Environment who reached at the spot informed them that the plantation drive was ordered by Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory.

The Foundation Director-General Waseem Hayat Bajwa held a meeting at the ‘disputed’ Green Belt with residents here Sunday said that the site is part of Mauve Area, which will be auctioned later on to construct buildings. He insisted that after getting the plots, the QAU present or former staffers have nothing to do with the Mauve Area. He also said that there would be plantation on both sides of Mauve Area.

Dr AH Nayyar, a human rights activist and resident of the area, said that the QAU employees paid for all the areas earmarked for Mauve Area, mosque, parks and markets so they have a say. He is of the view that Green Belts are already shrinking in the city and efforts should be made to increase vegetation.

Dr Pervaiz Hoodbhoy appreciated the MCI move and demanded that more and more shady and fruit trees be planted in the area.

Dr Muhammad Mazhar talking to ‘The News’ said that trees are necessary to protect the residential areas from traffic pollution at busy Kashmir Highway and mass transit bus route.

A former office-bearer of QAU Staff Housing Scheme Sheikh Muhammad Ashraf told ‘The News’ that the Prime Minister’s letter relocating land from the University Campus to G-14/4 clearly mentions that the land belongs to QAU Staff Housing Scheme and after its distribution to QAU allotees, the remaining plots of the sub-sector G-14/4 may be allotted to other government employees by the Foundation. He said that under the agreement with QAU, the FGEHF is bound to pay 59 per cent of money collected through auction of Mauve Area and commercial areas to the original allotees of the plots. Mehboob Hussain, former Librarian, QAU, said that CDA has technology to relocate pine trees of more than 10 years age and whenever there is plan to construct buildings, these trees must remain there to increase beauty.

A resident said that the area is so close to sensitive military installations across the road and high-rise buildings may not be allowed.

It is pertinent to mention here that Mauve Area allotment and construction is a slow process and G-13, which is almost complete but still far away from Mauve Area construction.

The Foundation knows that the auction will bring billions in its kitty but where goes the environmental concerns, global warming and PM’s 10 billion tree tsunami, FGEHF gives two hoots it. Already it has spent part of the money collected by auctioning a commercial area on roads maintenance and drainage for which the allotees had already paid.

A meeting between the CEO and Dr Muhammad Ali, former President, Academic Staff Association, QAU, is scheduled tomorrow to further discuss the issue.