The rapid transformation of the farmland in cities, particularly in the vicinity of Karachi, into urban housing schemes has emerged as one of the biggest environmental challenges in Pakistan.

Speakers decry transformation of farmland into housing schemes

The issue of fast-shrinking farmlands nearby urban centres of the country was raised by concerned speakers who spoke at a programme held at the PIA Model School on Sunday to mark World Environment Day that is observed every year on June 5. The programme was jointly organised by the Pakistan International Airlines and the National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH).

The speakers lamented that there had been no check on the fast-shrinking green cover in the cities due to widespread tree-cutting to build new housing schemes and modern civic infrastructure. Mirza Ishtiaq Baig, the founding president of the Make-a-Wish Foundation Pakistan who was the chief guest at the event, said the rapid use of farmland for building housing facilities had not just created an environmental challenge but also threatened the food security of the country.

He said Pakistan had earlier sufficient indigenous production of vital crops but lately due to a decline in farming, the country had to import wheat, cotton and sugar. He said that no action had been taken against those who were involved in tree cutting and farmland transformation using the forestland for building concrete structures at the cost of environment. PIA Welfare and CSR General Manager Shoaib Dahiri said the national flag carrier was fully committed to the cause of environmental protection and had joined hands with leading non-governmental organisations to plant trees at its offices and establishments across the country.

He said the Sindh government should take action against people cutting trees as they threatened the existence of riverine and mangrove forests in the province. Representing non-profit Green Crescent Trust, Musaddiq Aziz praised the PIA for its consistent efforts to save the environment despite its pressing financial problems. NFEH Vice President Nadeem Ashraf said that unchecked extraction of subsoil water for human consumption in the urban areas had caused a serious environmental imbalance. NFEH President Naeem Qureshi lamented that hundreds of fully grown trees had been recently cut down to make way for building the Red Line bus corridor in Karachi.

He demanded that the proponents of such projects should be bound to plant 10 new saplings to compensate the loss of a single tree due to new constructions. He added that a criminal case should be lodged against people involved in tree cutting in the urban areas.

Environmental activist Ruqiya Naeem called for not harming environment while carrying out development projects. Students of the PIA Model school made speeches and presented tableaus to highlight the issue of environmental degradation due to rapid tree cutting in the cities.

Source: This news is originally published by thenews

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