LAHORE: The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) and the Communication and Works Department have resumed the road-widening project along the Canal and are uprooting dozens of trees near Thokar Niaz Baig.

Similar activity was reported in the area in April. The authorities had stopped work due to public pressure and criticism, but have restarted development work between Punjab University (PU) Campus and Thokar Niaz Baig. The authorities have demolished a large number of old and new trees in the area during recent months in order to widen the road and to construct a flyover.

Experts term this uprooting a suicidal act since these trees not only protected the city’s environment, but also balanced the underground water level. Critics believe the renewed demolition is part of the previous government’s plan to eliminate tens of thousands of trees from the Canal between Jallo Park and Thokar Niaz Baig to develop a wider road and to rid the city of traffic jams.

A large number of citizens and professionals have held protests across the city under the banner of Lahore Conservation Society (LCS), forcing the government to halt the project. The citizens criticised ongoing tree cutting in the Thokar area, terming it a slow implementation of the previous government’s plan.

Senior architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz, a member of LCS, told Daily Times the professionals and citizens had no personal gain through protesting against tree cutting and commercialisation but did this to ensure a better future for the city and the next generations. Mumtaz said the government could handle traffic problems by adopting modern techniques such as removing encroachments from roads, banning various vehicles in highly populated areas and complete dependence on public transport or walking in certain areas. These methods are effectively adopted in developed cities such as London and Paris, he said.

Indigenous trees: PHA Director General (DG) Dr Raheel Siddiqui said the entire tree cutting activity took place before he took charge of office. He said plantation of thousands of indigenous trees in the Thokar area has been ordered to compensate the loss and would start in a week. Siddiqui said development work in the area was necessary to ensure smooth traffic flow but the authorities were aware of the environmental hazards involved. He said along with the flyover, a large park and green belt would also be constructed in the area to counter pollution.

Source: Daily Times