Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1239, (26 March - 1 April 2015)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1239, (26 March - 1 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Trees felled

Mahmoud Bakr reports on the efforts of the Cairo Governorate and the Ministry of Environment to stop the cutting down of Merryland’s trees

Al-Ahram Weekly

In the wake of public anger at the felling of old trees in Merryland Park in Heliopolis, governmental officials have started to take action. The Ministry of Environment and the Governorate of Cairo are both taking steps to reassess and perhaps even reverse work carried out in the park by a private company.

Environment Minister Khaled Fahmi said that a police report was filed against the company developing Merryland Park for engaging in work without getting the necessary permits.

After visiting the site, the minister said that the company committed violations, including the illegal cutting of old trees and construction of an underground parking lot.

Cairo Governor Galal Al-Said also toured the park and decided to open an investigation into the case. He ordered all work on the site halted until the company complies with the permits for the work carried out so far.

All work in the historical park, site of a major horserace track until the 1950s, has been halted pending further clarification of the company involved. A truck carrying felled trees from the scene was also seized by the police.

The company chopped down several trees described as “rare” and others were excessively pruned, incurring the ire of civil society groups which alerted the authorities.

The company was implementing a project to upgrade the 50-feddan (210,000-square-metre) park, create a 3.7-feddan (16,00-square-metre) terraced cultural garden, and 6.5 feddans (28,000 square metres) of plant nurseries, as well as a children’s playground and a restaurant area.

Fahmi said that he met government and company officials, as well as representatives of the Heliopolis Company for Housing and Construction and civil society groups, to study the matter.

Traffic officials told the Ministry of Environment that their deal with the company did not involve building an underground parking, but that plans were made for cars to park on the ground level.

Failure to obtain environmental permits before making changes to this historical park is the main reason for the cessation of work in the park.

The company is said to have presented the governorate with no environmental feasibility study before interfering with the green spaces and trees of the park. Experts say that such action is in violation of Article 19 of the environment law.

Fahmi said that an investigation is now underway into the permits issued for the company and the latter’s compliance with existing regulations.

A committee will be formed to examine ways to preserve the remaining trees in the garden and replace trees that were cut down during the recent work.

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