TransKarachi Issues Clarification on Cutting of Trees

TransKarachi, a public sector company established and owned by the Government of Sindh to carry out the project implementation of the $ 503.2 million Karachi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Red Line, issued an official statement on 21st May, 2022 regarding news circulating on certain sections of the press and social media about the cutting of trees for the construction of the BRT red line project.

Contrary to the news circulating, a detailed environmental study of the Red Line BRT project has been carried out and an environment management plan drafted. Likewise, several sectors of the civic society and agencies are taken on board for consultation pre and post-project initiation. The Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) report of the BRT red line is available in the public domain.

For every 1 tree being cut in the existing right of way, 5 trees are being planted. Nearly 80% of the trees cut are Conocarpus, known to be detrimental to the ecosystem and health assessments of the species have revealed that pollen grains from these trees cause respiratory diseases and allergies. Moreover, the roots of Conocarpus trees also weaken the foundations of buildings over time.

The 5 additional trees being planted include the likes of Lignum Tree, Gul Mohar, Coconut Palm, Khajoor, and Peepal among others. These trees are highly beneficial to the environment and would also provide shade to the cycling and pedestrian tracks along the BRT corridor.

A detailed tree plantation plan is already in place and being implemented. The tree plantation during construction is being done by the contractor and the work is part of the contractor’s BOQ (Bill of Quantity) which includes the entire process of cutting, disposing of, relocation, and replantation of trees as well as their maintenance.

Additionally, a separate fund worth 10 crores has been devoted to monitoring the environment during the construction of the project and an impact assessment system is in place.

Several meetings have been held with KMC, Malir Cantonment Board, and Forest Department and representatives from these agencies are present on-site while trees are being removed and replanted for much-needed development works.

Upon completion of the project, the upkeep of the trees would be the responsibility of TransKarachi in collaboration with the Parks and Horticulture department of KMC and Malir Cantonment. All trees, which are being cut are duly surveyed, tagged/ marked, and would be returned to the respective agency i.e. KMC, military state agency.

Wasif Ijlal, CEO, TransKarachi said, “I am very happy to see how invested the citizens of Pakistan are in protecting our environment. Rest assured, the project is truly transparent, and our teams are deployed on-site day and night to ensure the least possible impact to the environment during the construction phase of the project.”

The BRT Red Line project is sponsored by the Government of Sindh, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Agence Française de Développement, and The Green Capital Fund.