Milestone worth appreciation

Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Pervez Khattak, received a tumultuous welcome in the billion tree Tsunami celebration held in the Convention Centre Islamabad on Tuesday. Addressing this function, he said that PTI agenda of change has gone beyond the billion trees Tsunami in the province. He enumerated the successful reforms in health, education and local government departments. He dwelt at length how the national treasure of forests was looted by the timber mafia. He said that provincial government had to fight tooth and nail against this very strong mafia which was pillaging the forest wealth. The Chief Minister said this was not an easy task because they succeeded to cut down trees worth Rs. 200 billion hiding behind the faulty wind fall law.

The provincial government of Pakistan Tehrik Insaf has done a marvelous job by completing the plantation of 1.16 billion trees of different types over areas of 150,000 hectares. This achievement was made possible within a short span of one and a half year. Its credit goes to the dynamic, sincere and selfless leadership of Imran Khan, an untiring efforts and outstanding performance of the Chief Minister and his dedicated team. The most difficult task was how to break the vicious circle of timber mafia and retrieve from them 80 thousands Kanal of land for reforestation.

The government is starting yet another mega project of tree plantation 6 Lac hectares and a comprehensive plan has been chalked out to utilize all the available land for the promotion of forestry by the year 2020. The project will benefit the province in a number of ways in the foreseeable future. It will go a long way in restoring the abnormally disturbed ecological balance and flourish forests to arrest the environmental degradation. A number of precious and beautiful wild life species are on the verge of extinction whereas some have already gone extinct. Hence, wild life will get a big boost. It will play a major contributory role in the conservation of flora and fauna.  Deforestation has immensely destroyed the natural habitats and this initiative will serve as rehabilitation and breeding ground for wild life that seems to be lost. The aesthetic beauty of KP will be back to life.

This model of aforestation and re-forestation has been eulogized by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is worth emulation for the other three provinces of the country. Bringing additional areas under forests play a leading role in mitigating the disastrous impacts of climate change. Quite recently, a world renowned think-tank of environmental protection, German-watch has ranked Pakistan 7th most vulnerable country to climate change. The global Risk Index of Pakistan is 1-10 which is alarmingly high. The unregulated vehicular traffic, non-implementation of global environment safety standards in cement, sugar and steel industries along with the vintage and dilapidated industrial technologies has abnormally polluted the air that we breathe.  Last but not the least the existing and planned thermal power plants in Punjab and Sindh using fossil fuel for their ignition will also add to the damage which is already on. The volume of the oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in addition to pollutant of organic nature like methane and chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) has attained a dangerous level.  The recent dense smog content is a glaring example of our unawareness, deliberate ignorance and mismanagement of the Federal government.

Replicating the KP model of reforestation and aforestation should be made mandatory in other provinces especially in Punjab in order to arrest the man made nuisance of environmental degradation and provide clean air for the people.  If the federal government still ignore the tell tale signs of this menace because smog and health problem like asthma and cancer, in not so distant future will just be a tip of the ice berg.