LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Green Bench on Thursday expressed its satisfaction over Punjab’s Parks and Horticulture Authority’s (PHA) report in which it submitted that as many as 27,000 trees were planted across Lahore to compensate the tree felling caused due to various infrastructure projects including the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) and widening of Lahore’s canal road.
Justice Ayesha Malik, while hearing the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Andleeb Abbass, acknowledged PHA’s report that it has already planted the said number of trees after the report was verified by Punjab’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA) which stated that according to the latest survey carried out by the agency alongside the OLMT route, about 3,200 newly planted trees were observed. The report was also approved by Punjab’s Environment secretary.
However, the counsel for the petitioner Sheraz Zaka expressed reservations over only a small stretch of the area being used as a sample to assess the actual claims made by PHA. Zaka also argued that as per the instructions are given in a 2015 ruling of Supreme Court, PHA is bound to plant 10 new trees in lieu of cutting one tree for such development projects.
Responding to the arguments raised by the counsel for the petitioner, PHA argued that the agency is fully aware of its responsibility under the Parks and Horticulture Act 2012 to make efforts to provide a green environment to the residents of Punjab. It further said that due care is being given to the newly planted trees by the authority.
After listening to both the sides, the LHC disposed-off the petition after recording EPA’s assurance to plant 10 new trees would be planted to compensate every tree that is cut in the province of Punjab.
Separately, the LHC conducted a follow-up hearing over the petition about the rising level of pollution due to smog after the petitioners had argued that Lahore is becoming one of the most polluted cities of the world and urgent measures are needed to counter the problem.
The head of Smog commission, Dr Pervez Hassan, along with other members including Sheraz Zaka informed the court that five different committees were made to give their findings and one last committee would soon give its report on measures to be taken to combat smog. The court gave the commission time until June 9 to submit the remaining report.