Karachi: At the moment when the whole country is facing continuous harshness of Summer with intense heatwaves, the felling of hundreds of old precious trees in the jurisdiction of Cantonment Board Malir for the construction of Red Line BRT. Most of the victim trees were planted around 2 decades ago at the special request of the Malir Cantonment Board. The Red Line BRT was given NOC in 2020 by the Sindh Environment Protection Agency. The Sindh Mass Transit department is the executing agency of the project. The 26.6-kilometer-long Karachi Red line BRT funded by Asian Development Bank would benefit around 1.5 million people. The Rs 78 billion development project from Numaish at University Road to Malir Halt is expected a have a daily ridership of around 350,000 passengers. The development project was started last month and will be completed in two years' time.
As per the detail, there are around 23,500 trees along the BRT route, and out of these, a large number would be removed by the executing agency. Although there has been a continuous removal of trees ever since the project started last month The major tree removal exercise was conducted on Thursday which resulted not only in a severe traffic jam on check post no.6 on the airport road but also an outcry on the part of the general public was also observed. The environment experts have condemned the removal of precious trees. A senior professor of Karachi University said, “It’s a loss that we can’t even quantify. Trees serve us in multiple ways, most importantly by absorbing air pollution, releasing oxygen, reducing the temperature, and improving diversity”.
Professor Zafar Iqbal regretted that instead of growing more and more trees owing to the ever-increasing threats to the natural ecological balance, we are rooting the existing ones. He said that the plantation can never be a perfect substitution for the old ones. He added, “We must understand that trees take years to get mature, and planting saplings couldn’t be described as their replacement. Even the fast-growing Conocarpus takes at least 10 years to get mature.” A senior ecologist Professor Rafi said, “the government should have taken all stakeholders on board, particularly the area residents, before launching the drive. Trees are silent but people who see them every day develop an attachment with them”