ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday regretted that air pollution had increased to such an extent in the country that it had become hard to breathe in various cities of Sindh, Punjab and other provinces.
A two-member SC bench, comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, heard a matter relating to tree plantation near rivers and canals.
Ordering a comprehensive investigation into the ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ project, launched by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, the apex court sought a report within one month. The court also halted construction work at mountains of Kallar Kahar with the direction to plant trees in the entire area.
The court directed the Ministry of Climate Change to submit a detailed report on the next date of hearing, record of expenditures on plantation of trees, its counting as well as verification of sites where it had been planted, besides seeking its photographs taken through satellite as well. The court also issued contempt of court notices to Sindh and Punjab governments over failure to submit reports on the matter.
The court also halted construction work on the private and public places near Kallar Kahar and ordered for planting trees on the mountains. The court also summoned secretary planning as well as four provincial forest secretaries on the next date, and adjourned the hearing for a month. Earlier, at the outset of hearing, the chief justice observed that there were no trees in Nathia Gali, Malam Jabba and even Murree, and raised questions about the ‘Billion tree tsunami’ project.
The CJ remarked that the Islamabad administration boasted about planting 500,000 trees, but they were nowhere to be seen. “Were all those planted at Bani Gala? There are no trees planted along the rivers from Islamabad to Karachi.
“There are no trees in Peshawar and there is deforestation going on in Nathia Gali.”
The CJ said that all trees have been chopped in Kumraat and Swat, the scenic places of KP, adding that even cutting of trees was in progress in Murree and Nathiagali.
Naran and Kaghan, the scenic places in the KP province, have become heaps of garbage, the CJ remarked, adding that they would conduct an investigation through magistrates across the country into plantation of 430 million trees.
The CJ noted that housing societies were being established near Kallar Kahar.
During the hearing, Secretary Forests Sindh province told the court that they had filed a detailed report, stating that some 382,000 trees had been planted alongside rivers and canals, while the Punjab forest secretary said that some 46 crore trees would be planted in the province within a period of four years, adding that so far some nine crore trees had been planted in the province.
KP secretary forest told the court that some 7.3 million trees had been planted in the province, adding that as per the plan, 39 million trees would be planted in the province.
Similarly, the Balochistan forest secretary told the court that trees could not be planted right now in the province.
The apex court ordered the Sindh government to plant trees along lakes and highways.
During the hearing, Secretary Ministry of Climate Change Ms Naheed S Durrani told the court that last year the ‘10 billion tree tsunami’ project was launched and in two years, about 430 million trees had been planted in various parts of the country, adding that the trees had been taken from the country’s nurseries.
She told the court that the provinces were the implementing authority with 50 per cent assistance from the federal government.
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