Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) estimated Rs11.87million would cost the nation for replanting trees
Just after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the extension of Islamabad Metro Bus from Peshawar Morr to new Islamabad International Airport, Metro Bus authority has started thrashing down the surrounding trees in the path of this progress.
Hundreds of trees have been uprooted while the process continues to deprive the city of its natural relief and beauty for the sake of development.
Around a thousand decades-old trees, some at least 110 years old, are feared to become prey to the Metro Bus Service (MBS) which is being extended from Peshawar Morr to connect the city to the New International Airport (NIIA), according to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study of the MBS project conducted by the National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK).
The report says that the total environmental impact of the project would cost the state Rs10 million while the cost of replanting trees removed for the project has been worked out to around Rs11.87million.
As per section 12 of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997, all departments are bound to get the environment assessment report before launching any mega project.
The trees which would be affected by the project include Shisham, Sirris, Phulahi, Kikar, Sukh Chain, Jacaranda, Fiddlewood, Amaltas, Mulberry, Paper Mulberry, Eucalyptus and Citrus. Moreover, there are a number of shrubs and herbs such as Lantana, Phog, Bhekar, Malla, Sanatha, Pataki and Arind. Moreover, scores of fauna species including mammals, amphibians and reptiles lying along the project route are also expected to be affected by this development.
Ironically, the CDA didn’t take the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) into confidence before launching the highway expansion project. Pak-EPA says civic agency yet to file environment impact assessment report on the project.
According to the EIA report, the construction of the MBS and its planned route are considered to be the best option for providing safe, efficient and reliable public transport with the lowest cost and have the least environmental impact in the long run.
The EIA report notes that public movement and daily routine activities of locals visiting educational facilities including NUST, FAST, International Islamic University and Al-Huda educational institute would also be affected. Further, the construction, excavation and vibrations caused by work on the project may affect the stability of nearby buildings.
During the last a few years, Capital Development Authority (CDA) had chopped 300 fully-grown trees for the expansion of the Islamabad Highway from Zero Point to Rawat. Over 700 fully-grown and decades-old trees and around 4,000 small trees and shrubs were also cut down during the construction of the first phase of Metro Bus project.