PESHAWAR: The southern areas of the province are most vulnerable to climate change and therefore the focus of Billion Tree Tsunami is directed there. Forest secretary Nazar Hussain said this while addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Monday. He added this was the most successful programme launched in the country.
Hussain said people have to realise the sensitivity of the situation as by 2080, people in southern areas would be compelled to migrate towards Hazara Division. “If trees are not planted [there], there will be a severe reduction in rainfall in the region,” he said.
He said people must not criticise the project, rather, they should support the department in afforestation and making Billion Tree Tsunami a successful project, for the future of the province. “By December, we would have planted 250 million saplings,” Hussain said.
No dying trees
The secretary for forest department also showed the result of an enquiry conducted in four districts – Nowshera, Charsadda, Mardan and Peshawar, where the department was censured for mismanagement. Rumours about trees dying in the districts were spreading and Hussain said the enquiry proved the programme was going well and according to plan.
He added the project was one of the most controversial yet highly interesting ones.
“The survival rate of saplings planted this year was 95%, higher than that of last year which was 87%,” he stated. Hussain added locals will be involved in the whole process and unemployment will also decrease.
Billion Tree Tsunami project was first planned for five years. However, the secretary said, the plan was now for three-and-a-half years with the aim so it is completed within the tenure of the current government.
Hussain said the project was worth Rs1 billion of which Rs5.6 million had been issued and Rs2 million utilised. “The advertising cost so far has been less than 0.2% and no extra staff or resources had been hired or brought in for this mega project,” he said.
Hussain was also accompanied by other officials of the department at the press conference.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.
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