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Not sure Sindh has spent anything on tree plantation: CJP

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Not sure Sindh has spent anything on tree plantation: CJP

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Wednesday observed he is not sure that the Sindh government has spent anything on plantation of trees. If any amount had been spent, the whole of Sindh would have given a greener look, the CJP remarked, adding that one will only find encroachments on forest lands while going from Karachi to Thatta.

To a court query, the secretary Forests Sindh told the court that there were forests on 2.7 million acres and Rs2,323 million have been spent on it. He said out of 10 billion Tsunami trees, three billion trees will be planted in the province, adding that 57 crore trees have been planted so far.

He expressed concerns over the construction of hotels and rest houses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) after cutting forests and raised questions over the Ten billion Tree Tsunami project.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsen heard a suo motu case regarding the usage of underground water and determination of its price.

During the course of hearing, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed expressed grave concerns over cutting of forests in KP and remarked that hotels and rest houses have been constructed at Margalla Hills in the province. Similarly, the chief justice said construction is in progress at a national park after chopping trees. Justice Ijazul Ahsen questioned as to how construction could be made in the Margalla Hills, which is a national park.

The court took an exception to the absence of the secretary Forests, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The chief justice observed as to why a warrant should not be issued for the secretary. The court summoned in person the forest secretaries of the four provinces on the next date of hearing with the direction that they should bring reports pertaining to the plantation drive.

To a question regarding construction in the vicinity of Margalla Hills, the additional advocate general KP submitted before the court that a report will be submitted after reviewing a report on the Margalla Hills.

The chief justice asked the law officer as to what they will do with the mountains which they have allotted. He observed that trees have been chopped off in Kumrat, Swat and Nathia Galli. “The timber business of the Forest Department is in progress while delivery is being made at home,” the chief justice remarked.

The KP Forest Department representative submitted that around 19 crores trees have been planted in the province. The chief justice however, interrupted him and asked the officials not to oblige the court while showing foreign media reports. He observed that Peshawar has been deserted, adding that the province should have been enriched with forests. Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the whole KP province would have turned green if 19 crore trees had been planted there.

Justice Ijzaul Ahsen said the court had asked for details of 10 billion Tree Tsunami project, adding that the main purpose of seeking the report was to inquire whether practical work has been done in this regard or trees were planted only in papers. Later, the court adjourned the hearing for a month after seeking reports from the provinces on the plantation drive.

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