Use of firewood as fuel increases with advent of winter
With the arrival of winter season the relentless use of firewood for cooking food and heating homes by residents of villages in the Margallah Hills is continuing with each passing day, causing irreparable damage to natural environmental character of this hilly area.
According to statistics more than 300,000 people are living in some 32 villages in the Margallah Hills and the number of population is increasing day by day due to inflow of people from other parts who find it hard to manage accommodation amid high cost of living in cities.
“It is really hard to bring gas cylinder from the urban area to this hilly village because we have to walk three kilometers from the main road to reach our home,” said Niaz Raja, a resident of Kalinjer village in the Margallah Hills area.
It is pertinent to mention here that the federal government had sought proposals for provision of gas cylinders on subsidized rates to residents living in Margallah Hills but the initiative hit snags due to disinterest of many relevant departments.
Fauzia Minallah, an environmentalist who wrote a book on natural character of Islamabad, said it is necessary to introduce a scheme for provision of gas cylinders to the villagers on subsidized rates otherwise increasing use of firewood would destroy the natural environment in the Margallah Hills.
The data prepared by Biodiversity Action Plan of Pakistan showed that Pakistan has a network of 225 Protected Areas comprising 14 National Parks including Margallah Hills National Park, 99 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 96 Game Reserves, and 16 unclassified (private, proposed or recommended). The total area covered by these categories is 9,170,121 which is 10.4% of the total land area.
Fauzia Minallah said it is encouraging that the relevant authorities has made an end to stone-crushing in the Margallah Hills after an effective campaign by media and environmentalists for protection of natural flora and fauna but it is also necessary to stop use of wood as a source of fuel especially in the winter season.
Even in Saidpur village that is quite close to urban area of the capital city the residents prefer to use firewood for cooking purposes as most of them cannot purchase gas cylinders due to limited financial resources.
Raja Shafiq, who runs a shop in the village market, said the prices of gas cylinders have gone beyond their financial resources so they have no option except to use firewood to meet their requirements.