AJK govt to plant 5 million saplings in spring | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

AJK govt to plant 5 million saplings in spring

Pakistan Press Foundation

MUZAFFARABAD: Around 5 million saplings would be planted over 8,153 acres in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) during the ongoing spring plantation drive.

This was stated by AJK Minister for Forests, Wildlife and Fisheries Sardar Mir Akbar Khan at a press conference here on Thursday.

Of these saplings, he said, 3.8 million would be planted by the forests department itself, one million by the armed forces stationed in AJK and the rest by students and civil society members.

According to him, the salient feature of the drive was plantation of Chinar saplings at AJK’s entry points, along the main roads, tourist resorts and premises of government offices and guesthouses.

3.8 million saplings would be planted by the forests department, one million by the armed forces

Even if any tourist visiting AJK would want to plant a sapling, small plaques bearing their names would be installed along the sapling, he announced.

Continuing, he said, hoardings inscribed with messages about significance and benefits of reforestation and conservation of forests would also be erected in different areas to create awareness among the people.

The minister asserted that the PML-N government in AJK was “not just concerned but committed” to launching result-oriented steps to save and increase forests, which was evident from the comparison between the two years of its rule and five years of the previous PPP government.

Over the past two years alone, reforestation drive had covered 20,000 acres as against 17,300 acres during the past five years of PPP government, he said.

In response to a question, Mr Khan said the government was making concerted efforts to provide natural gas to NeelumValleypeople as an alternative source of fuel with a view to putting an end to the practice of timber felling out of necessity.

This issue had “almost been settled” during the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but it was back-burnered after his ouster [from the power], he said.

“We have once again taken it up with the sitting federal government and I look forward to a favourable response, in view of the significance and utility of forests for the downstream areas and reservoirs,” he said.

Mr Khan claimed that last year’s reforestation campaign was monitored by three different institutions which had put its success rate at 80pc.

According to him, the federal ministry of climate change was going to launch a comprehensive programme for plantation and conservation of 10 billion saplings across the country over the next five years.

Under this programme, a target of plantation of 70 million saplings was likely to be fixed for AJK, he said.

While responding to a question, the minister asserted that the forests area in AJK had not decreased “even by an inch” because the department had taken steps to this effect “on a war footing”.

He made it clear that roads could not be carved through forests because they destroyed green trees.

He said the AJK government had earmarked around Rs 423.9 million for development schemes of forests department during the ongoing fiscal year.

“We have also got approved a scheme to contain incidents of wild fire in forests,” he said.