RAWALPINDI: The ‘Plant for Pakistan Day’ afforestation campaign kicked off with fanfare in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Sunday with thousands of trees being planted across the two cities.
In Islamabad, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza planted a sapling at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).
He urged the public to play their proactive role in making the plantation project a success and plant maximum saplings. Planting trees, he stressed, will help the country cope with climatic changes besides ensuring the provision of a healthy and greener environment to the upcoming generations.
The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration planted 1,000 saplings along the Kashmir Highway.
The drive was inaugurated by Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmad Shah by planting a sapling along the highway in Sector G-13.
During the event, the minister was told about the steps taken under Clean, Green Islamabad initiative, and the project to plant a million plants on self-help basis by involving different sections of society and that they intend to plant a further million trees in the ongoing monsoon season.
He was told that a survey has shown that the survival rate of the planted trees was 70 per cent. Moreover, he was told that trees were being planted at seven locations across the city simultaneously and that they had a target of planting 10,000 trees on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the federal capital, 100 trees were planted in collaboration with Siraat-e-Naat Association at the Lok Virsa complex in Shakarparian
More than 500,000 saplings were planted in Rawalpindi on Sunday as a drive under the ‘Plant for Pakistan Day’ kicked off at the Mandra Toll Plaza.
The drive was organized in partnership with the Rawalpindi Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA), the National Highways Authority (NHA) and the Rawalpindi district administration.
Lawmakers participating in the ceremony pledged to take care of the saplings until they had completely grown.
MPA Haji Majad said that the forest department owned large stretches of land in his locality where plantation could be done. Similarly, MPA Chaudhry Adnan said that trees will be planted on the thousands of acres of illegally occupied land seized from land grabbers and illegal occupants.
PHA Chairman Asif Mehmood said that the government’s Billion Tree Tsunami campaign has created awareness amongst the public about the importance of trees and that it was everyone’s responsibility to look after saplings until they have grown.
Rawalpindi Commissioner Saqib Zafar said that the plantation drive is underway across the country. Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ali Randhawa said that that a campaign at the Union Council (UC) level was underway in which the civil society and students will be included.
An interesting situation arose during the ceremony when a forest department official complained that he was getting calls from lawmakers if he changed an employee who was not working.
The lawmakers immediately responded that this will not happen anymore as the government has changed.
Like the rest of the country, the ‘Plant for Pakistan’ campaign was also launched in Jhelum on Sunday. Jhelum Deputy Commissioner Anwar Jappa along with Additional DC, Syed Nazarzat kicked off the campaign by planting a sapling and later distributed saplings amongst citizens.
The district government will be distributing some 21,500 saplings in 500 nurseries in Jhelum, the DC said.
District and Sessions Judge, Muhammad Akmal Khan launched the campaign by planting a sapling in the Sessions court.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM RAJA NAUBAHAR IN JHELUM
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2019.