While govt spends billions on plantation, AIOU chops down 80 trees
ISLAMABAD: At a time when the government is spending billions of rupees on tree plantation, the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has felled 80 trees, a step which alerted the environment wing of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) on Thursday.
The trees felled by the university included 65 eucalyptus, five shesham and six popular.
A raiding team from the environment wing of the MCI visited the university on Thursday to look into the issue.
This coincided with the approval of a Rs125 billion project for the countrywide tree plantation by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Thursday.
According to an initial report prepared by the MCI (available with Dawn), the AIOU cut the trees without getting permission from the environment wing for which a Rs354,000 fine could be imposed on the university.
University felled the trees without getting permission from MCI environment wing, initial report says
“When we got information, we sent a team to the university. As many as 80 trees, mostly eucalyptus, were cut down. We will move against the university in accordance with rules and regulations,” said Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz.
He said the university did not get permission which was a violation of rules as across Islamabad no one could cut a tree without permission.
On the other hand, university officials said the trees were felled in good faith to replace them with fruit trees.
A source said an internal committee of the university had recommended felling of the trees to replace them with fruit trees.
AIOU spokesperson Javed Akhtar in his written response told Dawn:
“Actually there was a jungle of wild mulberry and eucalyptus trees which had become a safe haven for wild boars and porcupines. The university plans to clean this area to establish a botanical garden for educational purposes, enabling the students to conduct research. Fruit and valuable plants are to be planted at this place. These include olive plants, moringa plants, kachnar, cassia fistula, plum, pear, apricot, fig, arjan etc.”
He said the university would plant around 3,000 plants in the botanical garden to be set up in the area. The university’s Department of Agriculture Sciences has already planted 1,500 plants under the national plantation drive.
In reply to a question, the spokesperson said a committee comprising experts had recommended the cutting of the trees.
He said university employees living there were also demanding removal of the wooded area.
During the visit of the MCI environment wing officials to the university, heated arguments were exchanged between the team and the lower staff of the university.
The university staffers said the trees were property of the university and located on the campus and the AIOU could cut them. But the environment wing officials were of the view that the university was not authorised to cut any tree.