36,000 trees ‘sacrificed’ to lay power lines, albeit law, environmental damage

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CHITRAL: Over 3,600 green trees, including walnut, apricot, grapes and peach, have been cut in Broz village of Chitral for laying the transmission lines of Golen powerhouse, in complete disregard to its impact on the environment.

Residents of Broz, including Nusrat Azad, Suhrab Khan and Engineer Fakhre Azam, told media that the greenery was being removed so as to make way for high voltage transmission lines to pass over the residential houses, without taking the damage to agricultural lands and houses of three families in the area into regard.

They further disclosed that they had moved a local court to waylay this encroachment upon their rights, adding that the court had given a verdict in their favour. However, the court’s orders were being blatantly disregarded by WAPDA and the district administration, they added.

Moreover, they claimed that, in order to benefit the contractor, the survey team had deliberately chosen the path of the transmission lines over private properties even though it could have been laid over barren land along the riverbed.

A forest officer also told media that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly has passed an act to ban the cutting of walnut trees. He said that until a no objection certificate (NOP) had been obtained from the Forest Department, no one was allowed to a walnut tree even if it was standing in one’s private property. However, the current project of laying the transmission lines has seen the cutting of about 300 walnut trees by the WAPDA contractor.

The affected residents of Broze have appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to take a suo moto notice against the violation and also appealed to the prime minister, WAPDA chairman and the provincial chief minister to take action against the survey team and contractor.