Top court seeks Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project report

Top court seeks Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project report

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Climate Change to submit a detailed report on the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project.

A two-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the case regarding tree plantation along rivers and canals in which it took notice of the  project and summoned the Secretary Climate Change.

During the course of proceedings, the Chief Justice remarked that no tree was planted anywhere in the country and asked the officials concerned to submit a report about the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami.

The Secretary Climate Change said work on the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami began last year. Around 430 million trees had been planted across the country on one million hectares. The Federal Government had a 50% partnership with the provinces in the project, he added.

The CJP questioned as to where 430 million trees were planted. He asked the Ministry of Climate Change to submit a report on the expenditure incurred on the project.

The court directed the ministry to submit details that where the trees were planted and who verified their plantation. It also sought satellite images of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project.

Justice Ijaz asked the ministry to submit a report as to how 430 million trees were procured and how they were taken care of.

The Chief Justice said magistrates would be sent across the country to investigate the planting of 430 million trees.

He said no tree was planted on the Srinagar Highway and the Express Highway in Islamabad.  There were random dwarf and crooked trees, he added.

He said many beautiful plants were planted along the roadsides all over the world but in Pakistan roads were built in forests.

He said some 500,000 trees were planted in Islamabad but their detail was not provided.

Justice Ijaz said the chemical treatment of termite infested trees had not been done since 2018.

The Director General Environment said trees had been planted at various places including Bani Gala.

The Chief Justice said hundreds of thousands trees were cut down in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Naran and Kaghan had become garbage sites and there were no trees there, he added. 

The entire staff of KP Forest Department was not working properly, he observed.

The CJP said there were no trees anywhere including Nathia Gali, Malam Jabba and Murree.  He also asked about the fate of KP’s Billion Tree Tsunami,

The Advocate General KP said around 7.3 million trees had been planted in the province and there was plan to plant 39 million more saplings.

The Additional Advocate General Balochistan said trees could not be planted in the province nowadays.

The Chief Justice said the Koh-e-Murdar in Quetta should be revived by planting trees.

The AAG Balochistan replied that trees could not be planted on the mountains of Murdar. The CJP, however, observed that the trees could be planted everywhere if they were taken care of.

The Punjab Forest Secretary said trees were being planted on 25,000 kanals of land along canals in the province.

The Chief Justice said there was no use of the report submitted by the Punjab Government today and issued a contempt notice.

The court also expressed annoyance over non-submission of the report by the Sindh Government.

The Forest Secretary Sindh said about 382,000 trees had been planted along rivers and canals.

The Chief Justice expressed annoyance over the officials, observing that they came to attend proceedings without any preparation like primary schoolchildren. The officials would go to jail, he added.

He said there were no trees along the rivers from Islamabad to Karachi.

The court ordered planting of trees along rivers, canals, lakes and highways in Sindh. It also contempt notices to the absent officers, including the Secretary Forest Sindh.

The Chief Justice observed that the Sindh Government did not submit any report regarding the tree plantation and construction of Nai Ganj dam.

The Secretary Forest Sindh said the department had submitted a detailed report today.

The court sought a report from the Secretary Forests and Irrigation within two weeks.

The court also stopped construction on Kallar Kahar mountains. No construction should be done in Kallar Kahar, including housing societies, it added.

The court directed the Punjab Government to plant trees on the hills of Kallar Kahar. There would be no construction on all private and public areas in Kallar Kahar, it added.

The Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) Climate Director told the court that no funds had been released to them for the last two years.

Earlier, the Federal Government had submitted a report, stating it had allocated more than Rs125 billion for the “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme”. In the first phase that would last for four years, some 3.29 billion saplings would be planted, it added.

According to the plan set by the government, Rs 109.38 billion would be spent on the forest development and the provinces would fund the massive project with more than Rs38 billion.

Importantly, to preserve the forest life, Rs15.59 billion would be granted, and separately, Rs 210 million would be fixed for the payment of the ‘Green Pakistan Programme,’ it added.

Under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Rs 26 billion and Rs 27 billion would be used in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, respectively.

Another Rs16 billion would be spent on the project in Balochistan. In Sindh, Rs 5 billion would be used for tackling the affects of climate change.

A massive share of Rs33 billion would be granted to the programme in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

The case was adjourned for a month.

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