The third plantation of Miyawaki forest at Denso Hall Rahguzar, Landscaped Walking Street, the brainchild of Yasmeen Lari, CEO Heritage Foundation Pakistan was initiated here earlier today by Rotary Club New Central, at Marriott Road. The joint project of Heritage Foundation and D. C South is the first collaborative project of its kind.
It may be remembered that Rotary Club Karachi New Central and Starlinks PR joined hands with Heritage Foundation in 2019 to undertake the cleaning of Denso Hall and create awareness about the need for and proposal to pedestrianize Marriott Road. For four Sundays they gathered on Marriott Road to hold street festivals, clean the heritage sites on the street, and win the confidence of stakeholders.
The result of persistent efforts over two years, which included the digging and deep cleaning of 800-feet-long specially designed trenches in order to remove visually disrupting overhead hanging electrical and other cables and placing them there, and removal of extraneous material on footpaths, shops and pavements, was the initiation of the 400-foot-long low-carbon eco-enclave consisting of pathways lined with terracotta cobbles along with four groves of Miyawaki forests and three foods courts in the middle.
The third plantation of a forest within a period of two months is indicative of the speed and determination with which work at Marriott Road is in full swing, and hopefully, it will be completed before Ramazan. While the cost of pedestrianizing the street has so far solely been borne by Heritage Foundation through their own donors, it is now hoped that crowd-sourcing will see the completion of the walking trail as envisioned by Lari, linking Custom House in the west to Empress Market in the east, thus providing an opportunity for Karachiites to take ownership of their city.
The program began with a welcome address and an introduction of the project by director Heritage Foundation, charter president RCK New Central and CEO StarLinks PR and Events, Shanaz Ramzi. Speaking on the occasion Ramzi said “For over a year a team of 35 former beggars, especially women, have been engaged in the arduous task of hand-crafting terracotta pavers at the Foundation’s Zero Carbon Campus near Makli World Heritage site. The production of terracotta, bamboo and stone elements, along with work at Marriott Road site, has provided livelihood to scores of other artisans over several months.”
She further mentioned, “The trails have been designed to mitigate the negative impact of densification and environmental degradation in Karachi’s historic core. The original overcrowded, encroached and garbage-filled Marriott Road is being transformed into a pollution-free pedestrianized street for the enjoyment of shoppers. On Sundays, the rahguzar is designed to transform into a cultural activity area presenting street theatre, music, book reading and craft stalls that will portray Karachi’s dynamism and diversity as a tourism venue. With the cooperation of the owners, 12 historic buildings that line the two sides of the street will be restored to redeem Karachi’s original character.”
President RCK New Central, Alia Hasan then spoke about her club’s involvement in the project, after which Zeeshan Habib, founder member of Saturday Welfare Group who donated the 150 plants for the 3rd forest plantation spoke. The chief guest on the occasion, Prof Dr. Farhan Essa, RI district governor 3271 then addressed the invitees present. After the speeches, everyone made their way for the plantation of trees in the third grove in the center of Marriott Road where arrangements had also been made for plaques to be put up in the name of the person planting the tree or in the name of their dear ones.
Denso Hall Rahguzar presents a unique example of collaboration between civil society and government organizations along with efforts of other stakeholders such as shopkeepers. It demonstrates how an area ridden with complex issues could be transformed through collaborative effort without resorting to public funds. Any funds raised through sponsorships will be utilized for the creation of the next eco-enclave in the area.
The event concluded with light refreshments.