AJK govt taking steps to mitigate climate change effects: forest minister

By Syed Abbas Gardezi
June 14, 2024
Minister Forest Muhammad Akmal Sargala seen in this image. — Dpt ofForestry and wildlife and fisheries KPK/File

MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government intends to initiate several reforestation measures including the Green Pakistan Programme (GPP) and protection of forests to mitigate climate change effects, said Minister Forest Muhammad Akmal Sargala while talking to journalists on Thursday.

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Sargala said that the billion tree project was successfully implemented in the region planting millions of trees at different forest enclosures throughout the three divisions and the results will be witnessed within a few years with the growth of new trees.“GPP will be 100 percent funded by the federal government while in other provinces, 50 percent funds would be provided by the provincial governments,” he disclosed adding that the initiative would be started during the new fiscal year.

He said the government was taking strict measures for the protection and conservation of forests besides growing new forests including enforcement of a ban on cutting trees while measures have been taken to overcome the damages being caused by wildfire and other activities.“The forest lands illegally occupied by groups and people in different areas had been cleared by the department and wood smuggling had been curtailed on a reasonable scale,” he claimed.

He said rising heat was one of the causes of wildfire however, in some areas, miscreants were involved in fire incidents and several criminal cases had been registered against them.He disclosed that 875-acre forests had been affected by the wildfire in the Mirpur division, however, the fire was controlled. “The department is allocating funds in the coming fiscal year budget for the purchase of firefighting equipment including protective uniforms for the staff,” he added to a question.

He also hinted at banning the illegal wood industry and claimed that the timber mafia had been eliminated after Prime Minister Anwar Ul Haq took over the affairs of the government and was taking strict measures to implement rules and regulations.

Sargala said Prime Minister Haq was enjoying the confidence of his cabinet coalition partners in the government for his strict measures to enforce rules and regulations in the functioning of the government and ensuring merit besides strict financial discipline through austerity measures and expressed optimism that his government will complete its constitutional tenure successfully. Ruling out the possibility of a no-confidence move against Prime Minister Haq, he said that some elements had been spreading disinformation on social media against the government since its inception but all were rumors by the mafias that had been taken into account by the good governance initiatives and enforcement of the rule of law.

He said: “Earlier the government in the region was being run by the traditional way while Haq was running his government by Law and constitution which was affecting some people’s illegal benefits that were spreading the rumors of government change. Prime Minister Haq established his leadership qualities during the one year of his government and won the confidence of the Federal government as well as fully cooperating with his government for the betterment of the people of the region.”

The Minister hoped that the government’s recent actions would soon bring positive changes to the region. He briefed about the Prime Minister’s focus on public relief with the reduction of unnecessary government spending.

He said a Rs10 billion endowment fund was established to support widows, orphans, and the transgender community while a Rs 4 billion fund was created to empower youth through skills and small business opportunities.

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