Tag Archives: trees

Midsummer nightmares

Syed Rizwan Mahboob spins a magical yarn about his childhood in Lahore’s Chauburji

It was sweltering in early June when not a single leaf stirred. Teenage students were back from school and the more enterprising of them were already out of their homes after a quick meal. Their combined focus was a medium sized ground somewhere in old Lahore which had many mango, Beri, Neem, Sumbul and Labernum trees. The ground was located at the confluence of several narrow streets in a government colony, populated by clerks and lower-grade government employees.

As soon as troops of urchins reached the ground, there was a rush of activity, as if life had been injected into a drab landscape painting. Several doors around the central ground opened and closed in quick succession with colourful dupattas withdrawn in haste. From around these doors would emerge several good-looking young lads, with bright handkerchiefs around their necks, betokening the early, heady days of first love.

The ground, for the next few hours, was to be the stage for a string of events including fights among the strapping lads for the acquisition of sour ambis (unripe mangoes downed with the skilful use of catapults) and garlands (made from streamers of bright yellow Labernum flowers), both of which were meant to be presented to the coy owners of fluttering dupattas later in the evening. Continue reading

A Green Thought

by Amna Kausar

Amna Kausar is a candidate for the degree of BSc (Hons) majoring in Environmental Science and currently studying in her final semester. She works as a programme officer in a Lahore-based NGO.

My colleague and I were sitting together one day, obviously working, and the topic under discussion was my ‘so-called’ and ‘irrelevant’ passion for achieving ‘Environmental Sustainability’, not just in my own country, but around the globe i.e. a World of Intelligent Fools. It is sad when people like me, who are definitely few in number, come to terms with the fact that not many people possess the competence to envision our vision. They seem staggered and actually horrified at it. And what exactly is our vision? A Greener and Resourceful Planet! Ah, Thank-you, but No Thank-you!

Heading back to what this colleague was trying to say, in his highly ill-informed and juvenile manner, was that why the ignorant and unenlightened individuals of Pakistan (including himself) would not comprehend how important it was to cut off those trees situated at the Lahore Canal Road so that it could be widened for traffic control. For a minute I thought I could just punch him in his face, not because I was sensitive about this Road Widening Project, but because of the supremely ‘casual’ manner he employed in saying ‘Cut off those trees’. I did not visibly do it, so I stopped clicking my computer mouse, and thought of how to go about this important dialogue.

Only recently, I had got myself in a not-so-very hot debate on Face-book with an acquaintance about an article that I had posted on my profile relating to the notorious ‘Lahore Canal Road Widening Project’. Although, the man had solid points to put forth, I have to say how also extraneous they were.

So I got back to my colleague and asked him whether he knew what trees did for us and the Earth. He said: ‘Duh! They provide Oxygen!’ I had to come back with: ‘Oh! And do you breathe in Helium?’ He looked offended but managed to smile. All I could say to him was that it is humbly requested to him to look for the importance of trees on the internet.

This man and many others like him need to be informed that by chopping off those trees along the canal, they will only rob the city of its lungs! This project is worth Rs. 3.5 billion. Please think twice about Pakistan’s current situation. An amount as huge as this to be spent on a mere 8 percent population of Lahore that owns vehicles is certainly ‘not’ something that we can afford. What about the rest of the 92 percent? Should they move to Planet Mars?

A recent course lecture reminds me of a factual account that we, the intelligent fools of the world, are facing the situation of ‘Environment’ against ‘Development’. Sure, go ahead with Development. Just be a little concerned with its definition and proper implementation. It is amazing to know that the government has a good budget to spend on this Road Widening Project. Will it be a crime to think about the 92 percent I mentioned above and develop an efficient Public Transport System for them? I mean, we are a poor nation for sure and we need to do something about it.

Those trees are Lahore’s cultural possessions. We have not got much left in our pockets that we start stripping our country with its little left beauty. Grave environmental dangers are already forecasted including rise in temperatures and loss of biodiversity. There is utterly no water resource management and we are very close to wars on the issue.

Why are we so blind?

Lahore’s canal – alternative views

Raza Rumi

I am posting three insightful pieces on TheSouthAsianIdea Weblog that deal with the controversy over the construction of an expressway along the Lahore Canal. Whilst we support the Lahore Bachao Tehreek, it is important that all voices of reason should be reckoned for a full debate. I liked this part:

The bottom line is that it is not the case that there is no need for any new road construction at all. But smart urban growth requires that road construction be integrated into an intelligent plan that is focused on transporting the maximum number of people with the minimum number of vehicles at the lowest economic and environmental cost.

Here are the three articles:

Lahore – A Canal Runs Through It

Save Lahore Canal – sign this petition

Please sign this petition

To:  Citizens of Lahore

As you may have heard, The Punjab government is planning to widen the road on both sides of the Lahore Canal, from Thokar Niaz Baig to Dharampura, as a so-called solution for the congestion on the canal road due to the rapidly increasing automobile population. The Punjab Chief Minister had announced that the project would begin immediately after Eid-ul-Azha, however, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo moto notice and effectively restrained the government from commencing work on the project on 27 November 2009. The government has not fulfilled its legal obligation of carrying out an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)for the project and the lack of transparency of the program is depriving the citizens of Lahore from having a say in this change.

It is the consensus of a great number of organizations and groups of concerned citizens that the Rs 3.15 billion project violates basic principles of traffic design and will not only prove ineffective in countering traffic congestion, but also lead to an outstanding number of problems related to the well-being of the public and the environment. Widened roads have historically proven to only end up attracting more traffic, and the government’s focus on providing for the car-owning citizen over the abounding majority (which requires public transport, sidewalks, public toilets, phones and drinking water) is entirely against the principles of equity. The project also means the cutting down of several thousand old trees and losing over 50 acres of the green belt, which is sure to lead to a staggering number of environmental problems including rising temperatures and carbon and toxic content, not to mention the loss of ancient species of trees and shrubs that provide shelter to a variety of birds and small animals. The historical, environmental, recreational and aesthetic value of this green space cannot be stressed enough.

We demand that our voice be heard to address these critical issues and help preserve the beauty and grandeur of our city.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

The destruction of Lahore’s environment is a trend that needs to be reversed, says Raza Rumi

Moaning about Lahore’s most elitist enclave, GOR-I, is a contentious undertaking. On the one hand, it was, until recently, the best of what the British left us – lovingly p9aadorned with diverse species of trees, home to glorious specimens of ecologically-friendly architecture and an old-world-charm unparalleled for its simplicity and elegance. On the other hand, it was also a symbol of the extractive, Punjab-centric colonial state of the nineteenth century, lorded over by the agents of the Indian civil service.

But when one has lived in those sublime environs, not as the scion of a landed, aristocratic clan but rather as a member of a middle-class, professional family, what is one to do?GOR-I was a lonely plant of sorts amid the sprawl of Lahore, with trees, birds and orchards one would not have expected to find in an Asian mega-city. Continue reading

Fallen on hard times

LAHORE: Workers remove a fallen tree from a road on the Mozang area on Monday

‘Lahore is a city of tremendous beauty and lights’

Damanbir Singh Jaspal- GUEST IN TOWN

Lahore is a city of tremendous beauty and lights. I stay in Lahore whenever I came to Pakistan, as this city has its own historical features that cannot be forgotten, Damanbir Singh Jaspal, Information and Public Relations principal secretary (Transport) for the government of Indian Punjab, said on Saturday.

Jaspal is in Lahore not only on an official tour, but is also carrying out a research on 48 shrines that are named after 17 species of trees.

The study he has done in India, and now doing in Pakistan, includes photographs of the shrines – with the trees in the foreground – a description of botanical feature of the trees, and the relationship between the species and the historical and the religious background of the shrines. Continue reading

Lahore: The axe falls on secretariat trees

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. Continue reading