Published On: Sat, Aug 2nd, 2014

DHA in Multan plans mega project without EIA report

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By Shakeel Baloch

MULTAN, PUNJAB: Cutting of thousands of mango trees to establish a mega housing project in Multan by Pakistan’s largest military housing authority has become a matter of concern for environmentalists who demand immediate shifting of the scheme from mango orchard areas.

Full-grown mango-laden trees are getting hacked in the orchard areas as part of the housing scheme launched by the Defence Housing Society.

According to sources, the DHA had initially planned to establish its housing project on 38,000 acres; however, the area was later reduced and now over a dozen Mauzas (units of land organisations) including Nailkot, Kotla Mazhar Baan, Sangi, Kotla Sadaat, Garaywala, Durana Langana, Jahangirabad, Juma Khalsa and Gith Brabar, among others have been declared completely or partially as controlled areas of DHA.

The entire controlled area is famous for its mango, cotton and wheat production due its rich fertile soil, but unfortunately, luxury houses would now be constructed here by hacking the trees and destroying the fields that are producing food and protecting the environment.

 

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Muhammad Jamil, a Multan-based social activist says the process of cutting trees has begun and every day one can find a queue of vehicles including tractor-trolleys and bullock carts carrying the lumber towards timber markets.

 

“The housing project will not only negatively impact the environment due to deforestation but will hamper food production as well,” he says. “Here food insecurity is a real problem.”

Imran Ali Khan an environmentalist says “concerted surfaces of the city are already reflecting heat into the atmosphere, and hacking of thousands of trees would convert the city into a heat island.”

Khan told TNN that the housing scheme is set to be launched without submitting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report to the Environment Department, Government of Punjab – a clear violation of country’s laws.

He demanded of the DHA to stop the cutting of trees immediately, and shift its housing project to somewhere else. “No one is above the law and the country should be governed by law, be it the army or any other institution,” he says.

Zahoor Joya of Sojhla for Social Change, an NGO agrees with Jamil. “Hunger is on a rise, resulting in malnutrition whereas the rural  communities, particularly  from  South Punjab  and  rural  Sindh,  face  an  immediate  and  ever-growing  risk  of  increased  crop failure and loss of livestock,” he says.

More frequent and more intense extreme weather events will have adverse impacts on food availability, accessibility, utilisation, as well as on livelihood assets and opportunities in both rural and urban areas, adds Joya.

“As many as 1800 people died in 2010 floods – the worst in country’s history, but the total affected exceed 13 million,” he says.

He argues that housing societies not only affect the soil and the indigenous flora and fauna, but also contribute to climate change.

“When you remove trees and plants from a wide area you’re taking away a significant function for a healthy environment; trees are the major sources to absorb carbon monoxide,” says Joya.

 

 

 

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While it’s the responsibility of the government to stop any illegal and/or projects that are harmful to the environment, District Coordination Officer of Multan, Zahid Saleem Gondal says the district government has nothing to do with the project, and was not even aware if the EIA report was submitted to the district environment office or not.

The District Environment Officer, Zaffar Iqbal Sial, however, confirmed that the Department did not receive the EIA report of the DHA housing project till the filing of this news story.

 

 

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  1. Dear DHA Multan/here I want to apply for some construction work on sub contract.waiting for your soon reply.
    Thanks
    Best regards

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