Wednesday, August 10

Of heat, humidity and chopped trees

One is certain that previous Aprils and Junes were not as harsh as this year’s, and it is equally true that the coming months, and years will be harsher on us as well since the administration of the metropolis has been reckless to nature in far worse manner in its effort to make the provincial capital wear modern look of foreign cities.
Now what we, especially those sans ‘powers to run generators’, are going through is muggy and humid weather with a lot of trouble, but it appears to be a perfect case of negligence when both the nature and rulers are unkind to their people.
Multiple reasons can be attributed to this stuffy weather, but most important of these is our, as a society, and of our continual rulers – state functionaries – and governments of all shades, callous attitude towards nature, and it seems that we all as collective beings of this country are bent upon destroying everything around us. In this regard, major responsibility lies with the government, but one see that it does not turn even its ears to huge cries made by the public for taking serious notice of massive chopping of trees in various district, which was adding to desertification and land degradation besides depriving people of their source of livelihood.
The latest example in this context is of Sahiwal-Pakpattan Road, where I have travelled since my school days, when air-conditioned car used to be a rare luxury. The shady trees offered a vista, which appeared as if we were driving a jungle on a metalled road. But recently-announced dual-carriageway between two cities have provided an opportunity to the government functionaries allow chopping of trees for ‘paltry’ sum, which would not certainly run a provincial minister’s vehicle and kitchen for the whole year. Nevertheless, the loss is the biggest in terms of losing old trees, which had started giving sense of belonging to the respective residents, and acted as milestones to commuters, and way-wanders.
At this point, I also think of the-Sufis-on-the-path, who tread this Road on foot while on pilgrimage to Pakpattan where resides the great Sufi Hazrat Baba Fareed Ganj-e-Shakar (RA). Certainly, they would lose the right to rest under shady trees, and reference to the one of the oldest and historical roads of the area.
However, ruthless and unabated cutting of valuable trees on such a large scale for the last few decades by influential mafia had dealt a deadly blow to the eco system besides putting livelihood of the people and their livestock at stake. The henchmen of influential mafia are still destroying thousands of trees.
This unbridled and ill-planned development for the easing out traffic is not limited to only this area, since one can see it being carried out across the province, and the country too.
The thumb rule for cutting trees is that one must plant 100 trees when one tree is cut, but it has been never done even by the government, which is bent upon developing roads at the cost of environment. There has been unprecedented chopping of trees on the Lahore Ring Road, Ravi, Bund Road and underpasses on the Canal. Now one does not feel pleasant change in temperature when he is on this road. No body has checked the mushroom growth of colonies, which have been constructed and development on fertile lands. Virtually, there is no planning, and instead of going vertical for housing, the trend is to go horizontal. That is why, a residence encompassing an area of 1700 acres is the standard for a politician of a national stature.
Have Forest and Irrigation departments, City District Government, and the Punjab government been working well? Will the PHA remain busy in protocols or airport vicinity?
The request is: The Sharaey-e-Quaid-e-Azam and the Canal also need widening. Get rid of old trees of the Thandi Sarrak, and import more ornamental plants. Please!
Jane Austen rightly touched the pulse by saying, “What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.” For sure, quite a large number of people go ‘inelegant’ in this weather.
Lastly, Mark Twain made me feel differently, when I read his quote, ‘Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.’
The question is: Will we start working for keeping the nature friendly at least, if not like a beloved?

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