ISLAMABAD - The Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme has been delayed due to release of the Panama Papers in the first week of last month, The Nation has learnt.

Well-placed sources told that the Ministry of Climate Change had planned to brief the prime minister in the second week of April about the strategy for plantation of ten million trees across the country under the PM’s Green Pakistan Programme.

The forest wing of the ministry prepared a comprehensive presentation on how to implement the programme in the next five years. They said the Ministry of Climate Change had decided to inform the PM about the budget for completion of the programme but unfortunately the Panama Leaks got the PM involved in political activities and the ministry’s briefing is still in doldrums.

Sources said that the ministry will demand special grant of more than one hundred billion rupees for the plantation of trees in all four provinces along with support of national institutions and all provinces in the next fiscal year.

The federal government has written to the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, National Highway, Pakistan Army and provincial forest departments to bear fifty per cent expenditures of this campaign.

A senior official sharing the details with The Nation said that the Sindh government has completed mangroves plantation on 115,000 acres of land during last 15 years. The provincial government has also planned to acquire more than one hundred thousand acres of land in this regard.

The Balochistan government had also utilised more than 10 thousand acres of land for the purpose of mangroves plantation in the province. The Punjab government has also given the task to South Punjab Forest Company to take steps for plantation on two hundred thousand acres of land in Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur regions. However, the Punjab Forest Department does not allow to plant a tree having an age of less than three years under the provincial government policy. The KP government has also launched a campaign of one billion tree plantation and around 28 million trees’ plantation has been completed out of it so far.

Sources said that the officials of the ministry want inauguration of the project by the PM once the opposition parties’ pressure on the government regarding Panama leaks investigation reduces.

On the other side, the Senate Standing committee on Climate Change on Monday took notice of rising sea level and asked the government to call international conference for rescuing the metropolitan city Karachi. The committee was informed if the government and other stakeholders do not take remedial steps, Karachi will be in danger in the next 35 to 45 years. 

Talking to The Nation, senior climate change analyst Haroon Akrma appreciated the government’s plan of tree plantation in the country. He said this programme would help stop the rising sea level in the areas of Sindh province. He said the government should start the operation against timber mafia from Khyber to Karachi. The illegal cutting of mangroves is the main reason behind rising sea level, he said.