KMC Faces Severe Criticism For ‘Uprooting’ Urban Forest
Recently, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) cancelled an ‘adoption agreement’ whereby a private company had been allocated a three-acre park for the development of an urban forest.
The park is located on plot ST-13 on Clifton’s Park Lane and had been adopted by M/s Urban Forest in May 2017 for a period of five years.
Shahzad Qureshi, the owner of M/s Urban Forest, informed media that the KMC had cancelled the five-year adoption agreement without any reason. He said that nearly Rs9 million had been spent on the park and it contained 15,000 plants, an organic garden, and a lake while a treatment plant was currently being installed.
Shahzad had further said that neither the mayor of Karachi Waseem Akhtar nor Director General Parks Afaq Mirza paid a visit to the park, adding that the cancellation of the agreement was nothing but a political gimmick.
On the other hand, a notification issued by the director general parks and horticulture said that M/s Urban Forest had totally failed to develop and maintain the land as a public park and hence the adoption agreement was being cancelled.
The shrinkage of green space is one among the vast array of issues that affect Karachi. These include, amongst others, excess sewage, garbage, poor infrastructure and pollution. The scale of these issues is understandably proportional to the humongous size of Karachi.
Arif Hassan, an urbanisation expert, informed Naya Daur that the city’s issues are difficult to resolve due to the lack of coordination between government at different levels. He was of the view that if the various levels of government, e.g. provincial and local, were at the same page, issues would be easy to solve.
Moreover, he attributed the poor condition of the city to a lack of competent individuals in local bodies. He was also of the view that institutions that are responsible for maintenance lack the required training to fulfill their responsibilities. He further opined that bodies responsible do not have the knowledge and information about where maintenance is required in the city.
Citizens critical of the move
The cancellation of the agreement was followed by recent reports of the trees that had been planted at the concerned site being cut down. Citizens of Karachi have not taken lightly to the development.
Many have argued that this is a regressive measure considering how Karachi suffers from a lack of greenery and a high amount of air pollution. Others have said that parks would be a welcome relief from all the excess sewage and garbage in the city.
People have not held back in their criticism of the mayor of Karachi and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. Many have also expressed shock over how plants have been uprooted at the site.
Remember Urban Forest Initiative By A Karachiite?
After KMC removed the volunteer, it has now started uprooting plants as seen below.
Karachi's biggest enemy is the Mayor. He wouldn't work if he had the money which he claims he does not. Then how come he hired men to destroy? pic.twitter.com/3ZhM5u8vnT
— Fatah (@fatah_pak) September 11, 2019
Social media users have expressed confusion over why trees were being cut when Karachi is in need of trees. A journalist, Sabena Siddiqi, expressed her view on these lines.
Didnt Karachi need more trees?
Why on earth did KMC cancel the agreement with Urban Forest which was doing plantation for free?
Why isnt the media covering this?https://t.co/mAeAMmrp5R
— Sabena Siddiqi (@sabena_siddiqi) September 8, 2019
Some users have alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Member of Provincial Assembly, Khurram Sher Zaman was behind the move. The MPA had made a Facebook post apparently showing him at the site of Urban Fores, and had said that the people who adopted this park had ‘completely destroyed it’ and that he had instructed his team to start work on it.
So a Karachi PTI MPA is apparently behind the move by the KMC to take back the park from the private group that was building the Urban Forest in it pic.twitter.com/0VeQAhwbxL
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) September 11, 2019
A user also drew parallels between the workings of Parks and Horticulture Authority in Lahore and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, saying that while the former was reaching out to public to plant trees, the latter was destroying green spaces.
Really, truly baffled at what #KMC is doing to the #Karachi Urban Forest, destroying vegetable patches and taking out shrubbery. At a time when PHA in Lahore is reaching out to public to adopt locations & plant more, KMC's ignorant destruction is even more stunning.
— Nuzhat S. Siddiqi (@guldaar) September 11, 2019