KMC takes control of Karachi urban forest adopted by environment activist

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KARACHI: A vegetable patch of the Urban Forest, a three-acre park adopted by an environment activist, was uprooted by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) staff on Thursday, a few days after Mayor Wasim Akhtar revoked its five-year adoption permit for being too slow.

Located on plot ST-13 in Clifton’s Park Lane, the park was maintained by private company M/s Urban Forest since May 2017. Shahzad Qureshi, a 45-year-old engineer, adopted the empty public space with the promise to turn it into an urban forest.

In a sudden move earlier this month, the mayor cancelled the agreement that allowed Qureshi to grow the forest.

PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman was seen visiting the park on September 3, according to his Facebook page. Zaman admitted that he had requested the mayor to develop the park.

“Visited park ST-14/ST-15 block 5 Clifton near Nahar-e-Khayam along with our #CleanKarachi team members & DG Parks. Have requested Mayor Karachi for the development of these parks as it’s been completed destroyed by the ppl who adopted this park. Thankful to Mayor for accepting my request as he has instructed his team to start work immediately,” he wrote.

On Wednesday morning, dozens of workers of KMC’s Parks and Horticulture Department stormed the park and uprooted its vegetable patch.

When Qureshi became aware of the destruction of the vegetable patch, he rushed to the spot and stopped them from any further damage.

Later in the day, Mayor Akhtar met with Qureshi and other environment activists.

Qureshi said that the meeting was positive and that the mayor would soon visit the park himself.

The Sindh government also took notice and directed officials to protect the facility.

“I have directed Secretary Environment & Deputy Commissioner South to ensure that no tree is uprooted at the Urban Forest in Clifton Block 2. Its criminal to uproot trees. DC South has visited the park & informed KMC to ensure that no trees are uprooted. Will keep u all posted,” Sindh government spokesman Murtaz Wahab said.

Qureshi maintains he has created 1,800 square metres of a planting bed on the severely degraded land with 54 tonnes of biomass by digging and mixing the ground up to one metre down. “We have planted more than 15,000 native trees of about 55 different,” he said.

“We have spent nearly Rs9 million during the one-and-a-half year on this urban forest with active support of philanthropists,” he told SAMAA TV. Qureshi said people could get details of the expenditure on the park from their website urbanforest.pk.

“We are a company on a mission to bring back our native forests, by creating them. We use a methodology called the Miyawaki Method, invented by Dr. Akira Miyawaki in Yokohama, Japan in the 1970s,” the park’s official website said.

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