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Nisar Mahmood
May 20, 2017



Billion Tsunami Tree Plantation Project draws flak in KP Assembly

Billion Tsunami Tree Plantation Project draws flak in KP Assembly

Opp members demand probe into ‘misuse’ of funds

PESHAWAR: The Billion Tsunami Tree Plantation Project drew flak as the opposition members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday objected to its transparency.

In the written reply to a question raised by Syed Jafar Shah of the Awami National Party (ANP), the House was told that Rs 7137 million had been spent so far on plantation and growing of 853 million plants in the province. Per tube plant in nursery cost Rs 6 while bare rooted plant price was Rs 15, it was told.

The assembly was told that the total area covered under the project stood at 55,1673 hectors. This would increase the forest area by 4.99 percent. The house was told that 85 percent of the project had been completed. It was added that arrangements had been finalised for accomplishing the remaining 15 percent task by December this year. 

However, Syed Jafar Shah said he was not satisfied with the answer. He wanted the matter to be referred to the committee and properly investigated. The lawmaker said it was strange that a hefty amount of 7137 million was spent but no visible plantation observed and the figure seemed exaggerated.

Syed Jafar Shah said it needed investigation as to how Rs 32 million was spent on just dropping seeds. He said what kind of the seed was dropped where and what its result was.

The legislator said corruption had been alleged in the project. He said the sapling growing cost was high, the plants had been brought from Punjab on high rates and there were other irregularities as well.

The lawmaker objected to diverting 10 percent of the funds from the Forest Development Funds (FDF) to the Billion Tsunami Tree plantation. He said it was an injustice with the people of the forest areas of the province.

Muhammad Ali of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) supported the demand for investigation. He said nobody doubted the government intentions but irregularities had been alleged in the project and it should be properly investigated.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Mufti Said Janan and Sheraz Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) also supported the demand for probe into the project. He said it was not more than a joke that Rs 32 million was spent on seeds dropping.

They said the House should hold a detailed discussion on the matter. Mufti Said Janan sought permission for a detailed discussion under the relevant clause of the assembly rule of business.

Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman and Parliamentary Secretary Fazle Elahi defended the government. They said the answer had been given in details and there was no need for further discussion.

The government representatives said forests were cut during the previous government tenure while the PTI-led set up not only stopped deforestation but launched plantation on large scale.

However, deputy Speaker Dr Mehr Taj Roghani, who presided over the session, ruled under the relevant law the plea for detailed discussion accepted. 

The speaker had to adjourn the session sans completion of the agenda when Sobia Shahid of the PML-N pointed out the lack of quorum when discussion was going on a question by Najma Shaheen about the recruitment and steps taken for forest development in Kohat.

Earlier, the House unanimously adopted the special committee report on the forest ownership.

The committee had been constituted after a joint call attention notice by Muhammad Ali and Syed Jafar Shah wherein they had raised the issue of non-recognition of ownership of people of forest areas of Malakand and Hazara Division.

The committee report suggested ownership right to the residents of forest areas of Malakand and Hazara divisions like that of Indus Kohistan, which has been a longstanding demand of the people of these areas.