Intikhab Hanif’s report for the Daily DAWN is worrisome:
LAHORE, April 19: A number of Punjab Civil Secretariat’s old trees have been felled as part of Chief Secretary Javed Mehmood’s ‘demolition plan’ and the premises has been denuded of its natural beauty, green shadows and most importantly the historical links.
Among the felled ones is a red berry tree, which was standing near the back gate of the secretariat and was famous for its sweet fruit. It was perhaps one of the very few red berry trees in Lahore and was a link between the Lahore of today and the past.
“I really regret the felling of this tree. It should have been preserved,” said a senior secretariat employee, recalling how he used to pluck berries from the tree in spring after offering prayers in the nearby mosque without caring for his age and rank.
Among the ‘victims’ are two big trees on the premises of the education department, two near the health department, one (the biggest of all) at the back of the additional chief secretary’s block and two near the mosque.
Officials were also preparing to trim a big banyan tree to clear view of the minaret of the mosque from the main gate of the secretariat. This tree is standing on the right side of the chief secretary’s block. The only trees now left at the secretariat, which has a mixture of Mughal, Sikh and English heritage, are located in the lawn in front of the chief secretary’s office, local government department, previous IGP office blocks and the cabinet block.
The felled trees have been sold at a throwaway price, and officials say this is the only income the secretariat has gotten after disposing off its ‘junk’ even though “we have got only peanuts”.
“The wood has been auctioned against a few thousand rupees that is certainly not a fair treatment to the old trees,” an official said.
The chief secretary has gifted to its employees the ‘junk’, including old cabinets, tables, stationery and even bricks and iron bars of the offices, which have been demolished during the operation clean-up.
Officials believe the operation has caused the government a loss of millions of rupees, as the demolished structures had costly false ceilings and wood paneling.
The picture above is NOT from the secretariat. It has been borrowed from here