Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched “Plant for Pakistan”, a massive forestation drive in the country by planting a sapling in Haripur district of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. His call for tree plantation was enthusiastically responded by the people including women and children by planting saplings of different plants’ species. In Kamalia alone 16000 saplings were planted in just 32 seconds.
Talking to media on the occasion of kick starting tree plantation in every nook and corner of the country, the Prime Minister said that their target is to plant 10 billion trees in the five years tenure of PTI government. He said the aim is to beat global warming. “Pakistan is seventh on the list those countries which will be greatly affected by global warming. This is the war of survival of our future generations,”, he said while elucidating the aim of tree plantation drive.
Adopting a strategy of right man for the right job, Prime Minster has appointed a renowned environmentalist Malik Amin Aslam as his advisor. He is the author of a number of publications on environmental issues which were published in the top notch research journals.
The saplings of different varieties of gymnosperms like ‘Depdar’ and ‘Nandar’are expensive and the people, by and large, can not afford their large scale plantation. Provision of these saplings need to ensured from the centers established by the government because the apical hierarchy of forest department has always been devoid of vision in their forestation programmes. The foresters are least bothered about the ecology that is required for the plantation of different species of plants. They are particularly fond of planting saplings of ‘Eucalyptus’ in areas where water table used to be very deep, further pushing it downward. The Prime Minster himself planted the sapling of ‘Deodar’ to launch billions tree plantation campaign. He always preferred its plantation in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa previous PTI government billion tree plantation programme. This is an example worth emulation by the officials of forest department. In early years of its growth new plants require extra care for which mass awareness among the people has to be created and regular ministering be done by the concerned government departments.
Apart from tree plantation, the policy other than forests cutting which is responsible for pollution and intensifying climate change impact needs a thorough review. The policy of furnace oil and diesel fired thermal power generation of PPP government and the one pursued by the PML-N government for coal based energy projects have contributed in a big way to environmental degradation. In addition to accelerating extreme weather conditions, the coal run thermal power plants of crude Chinese technology with no built-in carbon scrubbles devices will certainly cause health hazards. It is pertinent to mention that half a million people die every year in China from the ailments like Asthma and Cancer caused by the emission of carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases fro coal thermal power plants. The issue was agitated by former leader of the opposition Syed Khurshid ShahIf in one of the National Assembly Standing Committee meetings. If all the 13 coal based thermal power plants are built and made operational thick smog will become a regular feature in Punjab and Sindh. The new government should deliberate over environmental aspect of the thermal power plants being set up by China and ascertain as to whether appropriate environmental laws are applicable. Germanwatch has ranked Pakistan 7th most vulnerable country in its Global Climate Risk Index 2018 report. Every year 523 people perish in the calamities including cyclones, storms, floods, glacial lake outbursts and heat waves. The cumulative death toll has reached 10462 in the last 20 years and economic losses are worth $ 3.8 bill.
The main author of the study, David Ekstein cautioned the previous government of Pakistan against its programme of coal based energy projects. Speaking on Pakistan love for coal, David shared his worst fears that the perception is common in under-developed and developing countries that since the western world has progressed using coal, it is made an excuse to develop coal power plants in the third world countries—such decision can entail dangerous consequences. He said, “Pakistan should think of reducing its carbon emission, which can help reduce the probability of extreme weather events. All factors that increase the chances of climate change effect need remedial measures.