ISLAMABAD – The evergreen city Islamabad was built in 1960 to replace Karachi as Pakistan’s capital. A Greek firm of architects, Doxiadis Associates, drew up the master plan of Islamabad, triangular in shape with its apex towards the Margalla Hills. The planners designed the city to provide a healthy climate, pollution-free atmosphere, plenty of water, lush green areas, tree lined streets, large houses and well-organised markets and shopping centres.
Under the plan, each sector has its own shopping area and parks. The designers of the master plan divided the city into eight basic zones: administrative, diplomatic enclave, residential areas, education sectors, industrial sectors, commercial, rural and green areas.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has developed parks including Fatima Jinnah Park, Rose and Jasmine Garden, Japanese Park, Shakarparian and Lake View Park. Earlier, the evergreen nature of Islamabad became home for many migrants from other regions of Pakistan.
Though, the CDA developed parks in the city but it failed to preserve the greenery as they chopped a large number of trees for the execution of development projects like construction of roads, flyovers and interchanges. The practice is resulting destruction of the evergreen nature of Islamabad at an alarming rate.
The civic body in 2008 launched a three-year-long Green and Clean Islamabad project, aimed at raising awareness among the general public on environmental issues of the town and to counter the impression that the CDA had chopped thousands of trees in the past for execution of various projects.
It was decided that general public including students, women, residents and other segments of the society would be educated on environmental issues of Islamabad. The CDA spend huge funds on the project by displaying 300 banners and streamers in the various parts of the city with different messages including “Go Green”, “Plant Tree – Clean Air – Better Life”, “He Who Plant a Tree, Plant a Hope”, “Plant More Trees as They Are a ‘Drop of life’” and “Forests for Water, Water for Life”.
The project also suggested an awareness campaign and different kinds of events and caravan regarding improvement of environment. It also included tree plantation at Simly Dam catchment area, Margalla Hills National Park and Saidpur village. It was also decided that the CDA would also amend its building bylaws for inserting landscaping in residential area. “Landscaping would be a part of residential houses, subject to the size of the plot, which would be incorporated in the residential building bylaws.”
Despite spending huge funds, the dream of a clean and green Islamabad has become a far cry as the CDA Environment Directorate – in spite of gigantic infrastructure – is yet to succeed to plant trees, protect greenbelts, construct tree lined streets as well as control violation of the master plan.
Due to the negligence of the Environment Wing, citizens openly use greenbelt for car parking while builders, mostly in residential areas, dump building material openly. Similarly, the Environment Directorate has failed so far to plant trees in the open spaces of different development projects for which the CDA had chopped thousands of trees.
As a result of the violation of the mater plan and carelessness of the CDA’s Environment Directorate, greenery is decreasing while major sources of pollution have remained unchecked, including vehicular emissions, industries, brick kilns and environmental degradation.
An official of CDA said if the relevant directorates of the CDA discharged their responsibilities and implement environmental laws properly, the current situation would not occur.
No wonder the project of Green and Clean Islamabad has become a distant dream because of poor check and balance in the CDA.