City braces for Eid rush

Expecting more than a million people visiting the parks and other public spots in Islamabad during the Eid holidays, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials are worried about damage to trees, flowers and how to implement the  recently launched anti-littering drive.

“Majority of the visitors would be coming from adjoining districts including Rawalpindi and Haripur,” said an official of the authority. He feared that like every year, flowers and plants in parks would be damaged.More damage is done to trees and plants during Eid holidays than the whole year,” he added.

With few places for outing available in Rawalpindi, Taxila, Hasanabdal and smaller towns, people make a beeline for the capital and the adjoining hilly areas.

“Rawalpindi only has only three parks – Jinnah, Ayub and Nawaz Sharif. They are crowded even on weekly holidays,” said Mohammad Qasim, a government employee, who lives in Waris Khan. The authority has written to Islamabad Traffic police on managing the huge traffic rush during the Eid holidays.

Officials expect that the Lake View Park would be receiving the most number of visitors. Other prominent spots that the people will be visiting are Murghzar Zoo, Daman-e-Koh, F-9 Fatima Jinnah park, Pakistan Monument Shakarparian, Rose and Jasmine Garden.Even small parks and green belts will witness a large number of people, according to officials.

“All our staff will be on duty during the Eid holidays,” Dr Suleman Sheikh, CDA’s director general environment, told Dawn. He added that maintaining and controlling the huge mob like merrymakers is a challenge. “We have broken pots, uprooted plants, and plucked flowers but we are more worried about any mishap or a fight breaking out,” he added.

Another officer posted at the Lake View Park said up to 500,000 visitors are expected during the four days.

“The park has around 300 staff and around 80 per cent of them will be on duty during Eid days. Gardeners of other parks have also been called to the Lake View,” he added. On the other hand, the management of Murghzar Zoo has appealed to the massed not to feed and tease animals. Animals get sick. They have digestive problems when fed with junk food.  Animals seriously fell ill when they are given stuff like chewing gums,” said Dr Saleem Ansari, the zoo’s vet.

The holiday rush will also be a test for the CDA’s newly launched anti-littering campaign. Though the authority has started issuing tickets over littering, officials say given the huge number of visitors during the Eid holidays they would not be able to implement the new campaign.

“Telling everybody not to throw litter on roads will be difficult. Many people, especially youngsters, start fighting over this,” an official, who did want to be named, said.“Most difficult part is to clean the roadsides as people throw wrappers, cigarette packets and disposable items out of the moving vehicles.”—Kalbe Ali