KARACHI: The Sindh government has invited individuals and organisations to make ‘green spaces’ — an area of grass, trees, or other vegetation set apart for recreational or aesthetic purposes — across the province by utilising lands available with the public health and rural development department, officials said on Tuesday.
“We have lands available at our schemes in almost every district of Sindh where we have planned to invite interested individuals and organisations to create green spaces there,” Public Health Engineering Secretary Roshan Ali Shaikh told Dawn.
He said there were thousands of such spaces available with the department that could offer the public to have green places in their areas, which were already very scarce in the province.
“This scheme could help our people to have gardens in their midst as well as improve our overall environment,” he said.
He added the organisations included non-governmental and village development organisations, philanthropists, and local and multinational companies. “We intend to convert the bigger sites into beautifully planned gardens or picnic spots for the communities with education and awareness facilities on environment, plantation and water conservation.”
Public health engineering dept will give pieces of land in 25 districts for three years without any charges
Project Director Raja Tariq Chandio said the department had more than 5,000 such sites where such green spaces could be developed.
He said the water supply schemes of the department, which included the reverse-osmosis (RO) plants, ultra-filtration (UF) plants and drainage installations, etc, were being run by them and they had ample spaces offering for developing green spaces.
“Thousands of such spaces are available with us ranging from 200 yards to as large as up to 100 acres,” said Mr Chandio.
He said individuals with reputation and history of working in environmental activities and organisations showing the same desire to make Sindh green would be handed those spaces for planting of trees and curating soothing gardens.
“These organisations and individuals will do all this without capitalising on it commercially with the precondition that they would have no ownership of the pieces of land given to them for greening areas,” he added.
Officials said the department had made it clear that those spaces would be handed to the interested parties initially for three years with no permission for using them for commercial purposes i.e. fixing entry fees for general public or allowing any companies to erect their advertisement hoardings, etc, in and around it.
“These areas will remain public places where entertainment-starved people could arrive with their families and enjoy with the nature free of charges,” said Mr Shaikh.
Another official said influential individuals would not be encouraged to get those places. Instead, “we will first check the credentials of those applying and could only consider them if they have worked in this field before”.
Besides, the places would be handed over for three years and the department could get them back as per conditions in the memoranda of understanding and would manage it either by itself or hand it to other parties.
Officials said apart from the land, the department would provide a watchman and water supply to the interested parties. However, those individuals or organisations would have to invest in designing those places and provision of seeds and plants by their own means.
And, they added, the department would, by no means, reimburse anything to the lessee once the time of contract lapsed or any of the two parties cancelled the agreement.
Officials said the PHE department had such pieces of land in 25 out of 29 districts of Sindh.
In Karachi, they added, the department had schemes in the rural fringes of the city in its West and Malir districts where those green spaces would be developed.
Besides, they said, the PHE department had schemes in the rest of 23 districts of Sindh.
They added that the forest department had also been requested to provide technical assistance to the PHE department to make the scheme success.