I remember a time when every street and every road of Islamabad was covered with a lush canopy of trees. Now, it is a rare sight. The Capital used to be an example of a Green City, but currently, it is buried under heaps of solid waste. And instead of the fresh air, the citizens of Islamabad experience foul odor of decaying trash at every corner. It is no secret that the environmental condition of Islamabad is deteriorating, yet hardly any efforts are being made to stop the problems from worsening.
The parks of Islamabad are a form of escape for the citizens from their busy daily routines and a source of enjoyment for children. However, the parks are being awfully neglected and heavily polluted which makes them unpleasant and unhygienic and they fail to fulfill their purpose, which is to provide a comfortable and peaceful environment to its visitors.
In my pursuit to explore and identify the issues that are causing an environmental downfall, I visited the Fatima Jinnah Park in F-9 Islamabad. It is a beautifully designed park inaugurated in 1992 and has an area of approximately 50 kilometer square. It is a major attraction for people who love to play sports such as Tennis, Football and Cricket and also for running and jogging. The center of the park is mostly forest and is inhabited by wildlife and adds to the beauty and uniqueness of the park.
But what I witnessed during my visit was extremely shocking and disappointing. As I made my way through the Parking Lot, I noticed trash scattered here and there; wrappers, empty bottles, plastic bags and fruit peels and seeds. Flies and tiny insects surrounded the litter and gave a very filthy first impression of the park. I moved on to take a tour of the fields and I was further surprised by the overabundance of solid waste after every few steps and the lack of waste bins over such a vast area. The Park management failed to install adequate trash cans which force the visitors to resort to littering. A few man-made ponds are present in the park for beautification and landscape purposes. However, these ponds do the exact opposite. Instead of aquatic plants and fish to enhance the magnificence of the ponds, the water is polluted with solid waste and the surface is covered with algae which do not make it look less terrible than any sewage system. Speaking of which, there actually is a sewage stream flowing through the middle of the park which gives off a very intolerable odor. Some have even compared this stream to the abhorrent ‘Naala Lye’ in Rawalpindi. But instead of altering its route, it has been portrayed as a ‘beautiful’ stream with impressive bridges built across it.
Multiple attempts to beautify the park have been made, many structures and ponds and rockeries constructed. Nevertheless, they weren’t maintained or properly cleaned and looked after which led to multiple environmental problems, which might further lead to various health problems. Mosquitoes breed in these polluted waters and transfer diseases like Malaria and Dengue. Birds and other animals may get trapped in plastics and other materials and injure themselves. They often mistake plastic bags and trash for food, and feeding on solid waste could harm their health. Drinking the polluted water of these ponds could also prove fatal for wildlife.
We fail to understand the importance of a well maintained, clean and healthy environment. As the citizens of this beautiful city, Islamabad, it is our duty to protect and preserve the nature so we may enjoy the wonderful parks to the fullest and ensure the well-being of wildlife. I believe it is time for us to take a stand and protect what we love about our city, not only for ourselves but also for our future generations. Covering up and hiding our problems will not make them less real. Neither will it fix them. This is why some sort of sustainable, long-term action to eradicate these issues and restoring a balance in the environment is necessary. If we do not own up to our mistakes, who will? If we, the citizens of Islamabad, do not care for the environmental state of our parks, who will? No one.