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February 24, 2020

Sindh govt, NGO initiate plantation campaign at Nehr-e-Khayyam


February 24, 2020

The Sindh government in collaboration with a non-governmental organisation, People and Nature Initiative (PANI), launched a tree plantation campaign at Karachi’s Nehr-e-Khayyam on Sunday afternoon.

Earlier in February, the NGO had signed an agreement to start development work on the Nehr-e-Khayyam Park adjacent to the Karachi Grammar School in Clifton. The Nehr-e-Khayyam, which was supposed to be a drain for rainwater, has become a sewage drain whose foul smell has been an environmental threat and a menace for those living nearby for several years.

Students of the Karachi Grammar School and nearby residents participated in the tree plantation drive on Sunday. The event was also attended by Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Environment Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, Local Government Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, and the head of PANI, architect Shahid Abdullah.

The mayor said that after he had received complaints from students and teachers of the Karachi Grammar School and residents of Clifton regarding the foul smell coming from the Nehr-e-Khayyam, he took Abdullah on board and removed all the encroachments over the drain.

It took the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation three years to bring the Nehr-e-Khayyam in somehow its original shape, Akhtar claimed, adding that now, the plan was to turn the Nehr-e-Khayyam into a recreational spot for Karachi. He said once the project was complete, it would be a big gift for the people of Karachi.

“I feel if one of my big dreams is going to come true,” he said and added that the city and provincial governments needed to revive parks of the city. Wahab also assured of the provincial government’s support for the project. The Nehr-e-Khayyam will be an exemplary project for the people of Karachi, he said.

The local government minister said the Sindh government would pour in funds for the revamping of the drain. He shared how the provincial government was working on the urban forest projects in the city along the Lyari and Malir rivers.

Abdullah told the ceremony how PANI was planning to clean water in the drain through biological means. “We have already done it in a couple of parks already in Karachi,” he said and added that after the water was cleaned, the northern side banks of the Nehr-e-Khayyam would be turned completely green.

“There will be benches, children’s play area – hopefully a very calming place with very large trees, public toilets and maybe some foot carts for tea [and] ice-creams,” he said, adding that it would all take at least three years.

As for the plants, he assured that all the trees that would be planted would be indigenous. “There will be fruit trees, there will be flowering trees,” he said and explained that a total of 45,000 trees would be probably planted.

The patron of ‘I am Karachi’, Jameel Yusuf, said their water treatment plant was based on old but very good biological reed bed system from which the water will be cleaned and then thrown into the drain. “From public donations and corporate sector, this work will be done.”

He said the Eduljee Dinshaw Road was also revamped on the similar model. “That area has been converted into a resort,” he said.

The Nehr-e-Khayyam, he said, was for storm water but it was converted into a sewage drain over a period of time. “This is the only project on which the federal, provincial and city governments are on one page,” he claimed and added that the project’s cost was estimated at around Rs1 billion and it would be divided into 12 to 13 different components.

As part of their contract with the Sindh government, he said, Rs50 million would be provided by the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board by which they would reduce and cut off sewage lines flowing into the drain.