By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD: Faced with an unfolding climate crisis that is fueling more powerful floods and scorching heatwaves across the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said an ambitious plantation drive was the only viable solution to reverse the negative consequences of environmental degradation.
Addressing the launch of a nationwide monsoon plantation campaign, the prime minister said deforestation had resulted in increased levels of air pollution and temperatures in the country, which required a special focus on tree planting. At the Fatima Jinnah Park in Islamabad, Imran planted the sapling of the Avocado fruit to kick off the campaign.
Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister said the plantation under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative would help the country gain its lost forest cover, which was unfortunately low when compared to other countries in the region. He said ruthless tree-cutting during the previous governments had led to rising pollution levels in cities and emphasised that trees were the natural remedy to absorb the airborne pollutants.
Sharing his vision to make every city of Pakistan green, he asked the local administrations including commissioners and deputy commissioners to ensure proper implementation of the plantation drive and also preserve the green covers. Imran observed the world was acknowledging Pakistan’s role in leading the efforts against climate change, particularly meeting the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested lands by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. The event was attended by Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Planning Minister Asad Umer, State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan and Senator Faisal Javed Khan. A large number of volunteers were also present to plant saplings in the premises of the park.
The activity is taking place in the rainy season of the monsoon as part of the Billion Tree programme under the auspices of the Ministry of Climate Change and the Capital Development Authority. In the next few weeks, the CDA will plant nearly half a million saplings across Islamabad. Islamabad over the years has witnessed a massive reduction in green cover, particularly in the last two decades.
However, the green graph is gradually showing an upward trend after the government of Prime Minister Imran carried out a massive tree plantation campaign under the Clean Green Pakistan Index. Two days ago, Prime Minister Imran planted a sapling in a scenic resort of Nathia Gali to promote plantations for the sake of preserving the natural environment. He also urged the nation especially youth to join hands in gearing up for the campaign. Imran, even before joining politics, has long been a strong advocate for the importance of plantation for the future of a clean and green Pakistan.
Moreover, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed Capital Development Authority (CDA) to present a viable plan for the use of the vacant building of Citizens Club for the consumption of general public. The prime minister asked the Chairman CDA Amer Ali Ahmed to “take lead and hold consultations with the architect Nayyar Ali Dada to sort out the proper usage of the building”.
The two-member committee will soon present proposals to the prime minister in this regard. The instructions were issued as the prime minister chaired a meeting at the Citizens Club situated at Fatima Jinnah Park, F-9, to decide about its fate as the edifice lies abandoned since its completion in 2018. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Senator Faisal Javed, Chairman CDA Amer Ahmed Ali, architect Nayyar Ali Dada and federal secretaries attended the meeting.