Ecological pollution

A Three member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Ijaz-ul-Hassan and Justice Faisal Arab heard the environmental pollution case pertaining to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa at the Peshawar Registry of the apex court. During the hearing on Monday the CJP questioned the veracity of government claim to have planted one billion trees in the province and remarked that he did not notice trees on highways. During the hearing the CJP said that there was no work on ground and the court does not need documents but practical work. The CJP also showed concern over the environmental degradation in Peshawar city. The court directed the respondents including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others to submit a comprehensive report within four weeks.
Billion tree plantation project was launched by the previous PTI led provincial government at a cost $169 million with community participation in 2014 as a response to the challenge of global warming. From the very outset the project was plagued by transparency issues, which were often agitated by the opposition political parties. In the implementation of project Forest Department, line department and private sector were involved. The events of plantation of saplings by VIPs were done in media lime light and it was claimed that 350,000 hectare of deforested and degraded land has been restored and forests’ cover has been increased from 2 percent to 5 percent.
The official data released in August 2017 stated that plantation programme was completed months ahead of the schedule and in the province were alive with newly planted saplings. However situation on ground was different. Proper cataloguing was done of the plantation in public parks, in the premises of government buildings and on government’s lands. The cataloguing of the outsourced component of plantation project was not done. The list of trees and saplings that was sanctioned on official paper was different from the actual number of trees planted in some areas. Highly inflated rates of saplings were charged in bills for payment and ecological environment for the plantation of various species was not taken into account. Moreover, line department such as Peshawar Development Authority repeatedly planted and uprooted the plants and trees of billion tree plantation project on the roads’ side and in gangways.