20-year-old trees cut down along Sharae Faisal -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

20-year-old trees cut down along Sharae Faisal

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Amanat Ali sits on a greenbelt at Sharae Faisal, amid chopped trees, which he planted with his hands around 20 years ago. Wearing a gloomy look, he remains oblivious to the fast flowing traffic around him; instead he stares at the half-chopped trees.

“I planted them,” he says, staring at the trimmed branches. “I used to water them every alternative day and even trim the branches. They were like my children.”

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Even though a heatwave is predicted to hit the metropolis, trees across the city are being brutally chopped down. Around 13 trees were cut at Sharae Faisal, just in front of Metro supermarket, in the wee hours of Thursday, by unidentified men. The street lies under the jurisdiction of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

Ali is a gardener of the KMC who has been looking after a huge portion of the green belt at Sharae Faisal since the last 20 years. He says that it will take at least a year for the axed trees to grow back.

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Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, taking notice of the axed trees, directed commissioner Asif Hyder Shah to immediately arrest the culprits. He asked Shah to mobilise the police and submit a report to him.

“We are working hard to improve the environment and making efforts to plant trees, but some unscrupulous people are cutting trees,” he said, adding that the issue needs to be taken seriously.

Penalty for tree cutting to get tougher

An FIR has been registered under Sections 427 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 132 of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013, at the Airport police station, said KMC parks deputy director Tanveer Ahmed while speaking to The Express Tribune. Culprits will be imposed a fine of Rs0.2 million to Rs0.3 million for cutting a 20-year-old tree. However, the culprits cannot be imprisoned for the crime, he added.

When asked regarding the types of trees that were cut, he said they included lignum, conocarpus and neem.

Shehri-Citizens for Better Environment general secretary Amber Alibhai explained that it takes around 40 years for lignum and neem trees to become mature. It needs to be monitored if the trees that were chopped down are being replaced by billboards or not, she added.

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Police investigation

The number plate of the truck in which the chopped down branches were taken away was noted as JZ-0468, said an official of the Airport Police Station, requesting anonymity.

According to the official, trees could have been chopped down by the Metro supermarket as they used to hide the façade of their superstore.

However, Metro supermarket floor in-charge denied the allegation and said that those trees have been present since a long time and why would the store chop them all of a sudden. “We also have several plants planted in our premises,” he pointed out.

Express Tribune