MTS goes against the green
LAHORE, Feb 2: The Model Town Cooperative Housing Society is all set to convert green areas (public places) including a children’s play area of the Central Park into new facilities allegedly to fill its coffers.
The obliteration of green areas is in violation of environmental laws. The move has become a cause for consternation for the residents as well as visitors to Model Town.
A number of people throng its recreational facilities to enjoy natural beauty and serenity; Model Town Central Park is one of the much frequented spots.
With 1,463 acres (42 per cent of the total land allocation for green areas and roads), Model Town is one of the oldest localities of the city that was formed and developed in 1924. It was later registered under the Cooperative Societies Act-1925 in 1960.
Residents have long been complaining about initiation of money-making projects. They have now raised concern over elimination of the public utility sites/green areas in the name of commercialisation.
“The society office-bearers plan to convert a lush green recreational spot within the 125-acre Central Park into a joyland. They also desire to get three restaurants built at the Linear Park (also known as Nawaz Sharif Park) along Ferozepur Road,” Tanveer Ahmad, a resident and environmental rights activist, told Dawn.
The Society, he said, also planned to lease out the plants/nursery area near Ferozepur Road. “It is being done for vested interest in the garb of commercialisation policy.
Projects like these can snatch oxygen from the residents and the outsiders visiting these areas to enjoy natural beauty are also repelled,” he said.
He said relevant laws prevented conversion of the green areas having thousands of trees into commercial ventures. “We cannot even deprive the birds of their nests as they live peacefully and harm no one. But understanding of nature is not everyone’s cup of tea,” he remarked.
He said the Society bye-laws also prohibited use of public-utility sites for other purposes.
“If they develop a joyland at the main park’s children area, they will surely install mechanical swings there. This will not only cause a great noise pollution but also generate smoke. Trees as usual will be the first casualty,” he protested.
He said similarly they had planned to cut huge trees around the Linear Park for leasing out some of its portions to private parties for building restaurants.
He said the nursery area, where the MTS wanted to construct plazas through leasing its property, was also a major source of oxygen. “They people already fell around 70 to 80 trees for this purpose, depriving the residents of the town’s natural beauty,” he said.
He accused the society office-bearers of getting these projects approved by a meeting of general body through voting from ‘outsiders’ despite resistance by the residents.
He said the residents also planned to hold a protest rally against such decisions on Feb 10.
Model Town Society President Sahibzada Saifur Rehman denied the allegations and claimed that he was doing all this for the welfare of the residents. “Actually, we are converting the children’s park into an amusement arcade. This place was previously being used by a nursery as well as Ladies Club but the society got it included in the main park,” he said. He said no mechanical swing would be installed.
He said the MTS would lease out just 12 kanals of the Linear Park to private parties in order to get restaurants built. These would eventually facilitate the residents who go for eateries in Gulberg and Defence, he said.
He said the nursery land, where the Society intended to raise plazas, was lying unutilised. “We had been receiving just Rs11,000 monthly rent from the nursery owners.
This land has already been declared a commercial area and that’s why we have decided to lease it out,” he said.
He said all these projects had been approved with majority vote during a meeting of the MTS general body. He called the critics habitual trouble-makers.