Priorities : Massive hike in funds for forestry

Published: June 16, 2016
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Rs735 million allocated for wildlife. PHOTO: FILE

Rs735 million allocated for wildlife. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The provincial government has earmarked Rs2.2 billion for the Forestry sector over the forthcoming fiscal year.

According to documents available with The Express Tribune, this represented a 144 per cent rise vis-a-vis the Rs900 million allocated for the sector in the current fiscal year. The documents revealed that a majority of the funds—Rs1 billion—had been allocated for the Kissan Package. Around 10 per cent of the budget—Rs225 million—has been earmarked for ten new afforestation schemes. Around 44 per cent of the funds allocated for the department—Rs 974 million—has been set aside for ongoing schemes.

The documents revealed that Rs40 million had been reserved for roadside plantation maintenance with another Rs20 million being allocated for afforesting the Murree hills.

Around Rs135 million would be spent on rehabilitating irrigated plantations across Shorkot, Kamalia, Daphar, Pakhowal, Changa Manga, Chichawatni and Khanewal.

According to the documents, Rs10 million had been earmarked for safari parks province-wide.

Another 20 million would be used to finance the formulation of an information management system for the department.

Wildlife

Separately, Rs735 million has been earmarked for the conservation of wildlife across the province.

Documents revealed that around Rs421 million had been set aside for seven new schemes.

All of the schemes were yet to be green-lighted.

These include the proposed establishment of a national safari park at Kallar Kahar at an estimated cost of Rs100 million.  Another 94 and 40 million has been reserved for the establishment of zoos in Bhakkar and Taunsa Sharif respectively. Rs50 million has also been earmarked for Lahore’s Jallo Park.

Another Rs17 million would be used to upgrade the Lahore Safari Park. Another Rs95 million has been reserved to revamp Lahore Zoo. The provincial government has also allotted Rs25 million for the constitution of a wildlife management unit.

With the allocations, the pertinent department stated it aspired to increasing protected areas from 11 per cent to 12 per cent in line with the MDGs.

It reiterated its commitment to increasing the number of community-based organisations to ensure effective wildlife protection and sustain existing wildlife facilities.

The department also stated that it also aimed to foster a conducive environment for partridge breeding, protecting the Punjabi urial and maintaining Bahawalpur’s Lal Suhanra National Park.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2016.

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