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Thursday Feb 15 2018

Billion Tree Tsunami: KP govt admits 60pc saplings new, self-growing

PESHAWAR: In complete contrast to the claims made by Imran Khan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government yet again admitted that the 60 per cent of the saplings under the Billion Tree Tsunami were new and self-growing [self-seeding] and the remaining 40 per cent had been procured for plantation and free distribution.

The project was praised around the world but some shortcomings were also identified and there could also be irregularities in the cash disbursement of Rs 6.25 billion.

These views were expressed in the Khyber TV’s programme KP Files hosted by Aqeel Yousafzai. Provincial Forests Minister Ishtiaq Armar and senior journalists Arshad Aziz Malik and Syed Waqas Shah participated in the programme.

Sharing facts and figures, Malik said 732 million saplings under the Billion Tree Tsunami were new and 27 million were self-growing, thus, these 759 million saplings were a result of restoration and protection of forests.

He added that the government planted 240 million saplings after procurement, with another 153 million distributed free among the people for plantation.

Speaking on the occasion, Armar confirmed the data. When asked by Malik about the cash disbursement, he replied he did not know about it and added that all the payments should have been made through cross cheque.

There were shortcomings, Armar said, admitting that nothing was 100 per cent in the project and there must be some weaknesses. He, however, added that it happened everywhere.

About procurement without tenders, he said the four-unit limit was ended due to the plants requirement and that’s why orders for one million saplings were issued to several people, including Arshad Ali Khan – brother of former chief secretary.

During the programme, Malik revealed that Armar had himself visited the office of former ACE director Ziaullah Toru’s office with the complaints of irregularities in the project. But some influential people got Toru removed after he started action over the complaints.

Armar endorsed Malik and said he had visited Toru’s office to register complaint about irregularities.

Originally published in The News


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