Pakistan’s first botanical garden about to disappear

KARACHI:

The country’s first botanical garden, established more than a decade ago for plant research and preservation purposes, at one of the country’s largest universities, now lies in a state of ruin due to lack of care and funding.

In 2005, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) approved the addition of a botanical garden at the University of Karachi, which occupies several acres, at a cost of Rs 30 crore.

Two years later, in September 2007, the project was inaugurated and its first years were dedicated to the preservation of alpine plants, medicinal plants, and halophytes; while a separate section was created to plant fruit trees. Currently, the garden resembles a forest of wild trees.

The Express Grandstand he asked the manager, Dr. Roohi Bano, about the sorry state of the garden, to which she replied that she had only recently taken up her position but was aware of the problems. “I have already written a detailed letter to the administration outlining the problems related to the botanical garden.

The facility is clearly facing a funding crisis,” reported Dr. Bano. While it remains to be seen whether Dr. Bano’s concerns will be addressed, the garden’s plant conservation area is in a harrowing condition. The conservation area was temperature controlled and was used to house plants brought from remote areas of the country; Currently, the air conditioning and the generators installed for it have been rendered inoperative due to lack of maintenance and the electricity supply has been cut off.

As a result, the plants are long gone, and a broken cast-iron structure is the only reminder of what used to be. As the project was the initiative of the renowned botanical researcher and former Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Karachi, Professor Dr. Muhammad Qaiser, The Express Grandstand he asked about the decline of the botanical garden. “These old things are not properly cared for by concerned officials,” Dr. Qaiser commented.

When the current VC of the university, Professor Dr. Khalid Iraqi, was asked about the miserable state of the garden, he replied that the grant received for such projects does not include long-term maintenance. “The HEC often awards a one-time grant for scientific and research projects, such as the botanic garden, which is only sufficient for the initial operation of the project,” the VC explained.

Dr. Iraqi was of the opinion that there should be a separate grant to continue research that is not included in the PC-1 for projects like the garden. “Not having such a separate grant means the burden of running the project falls on the university; and running such projects is extremely challenging for varsity management given the current financial situation,” Dr. Iraqi said while speaking with The Express Grandstand.

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