PESHAWAR - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has declined lifting ban on any kind of forest cutting, including windfall disposal. He however revealed that a comprehensive environment policy has been prepared for increase in forest covered area and scientific cutting of trees in the province. The policy, he said is being announced next month.
Talking to a representative delegation of forests owners and notables from District Upper Dir, which called on him under the leadership of Provincial Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (LG&RD) Inayatullah here at the CM Secretariat, he said that besides other solid measures several good news were also in the pipeline for forests owners and timber merchants. On this occasion, MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah, Provincial Minister for Sports & Culture, Mehmood Khan, MPAs, Mohammad Ali Khan, Shakeel Khan, Abdul Monim, Fazal Hakeem, former provincial minister Ahmad Hassan Khan and other public representatives and authorities were also present. The delegation while fully agreeing and supporting with the policies of the coalition government of PTI requested that no doubt the government should continue strict policy for maintaining check on forests cutting. However, they stressed for granting temporary permission for transportation of windfall timber to market.
The chief minister said that he is fully aware of the problems of forest owners and timber merchants due to ban on cutting, as it is the only source of employment for them. He said that his government even could not think of any loss to anyone, including forest owners, rather from the first day PTI-led government was making efforts for mitigation of the victims of poverty and unemployment. However, he said that forests are most important part of natural environment and sacred trust of the coming generations, whose suitable looking after and protection from massive cutting is our national obligation.
Pervez Khattak said that in past we had faced the outcome and losses of the unnatural cutting of forests. He said that during last one decade the devastations rendered by floods have no precedent in past, whose basic reason is deforestation and battle against nature. He said that destruction of environment for the sake of few rupees and inviting future natural disasters is no wisdom rather it is tantamount to mass suicide. He said that trees are also living things and their living age and benefits are very crucial for human beings. He said that Islam has prohibited the cutting of trees before achieving the physical timeline. However, he said for getting individual benefits we are committing this national loss, which in future should be effectively prevented.
The chief minister said that provincial autonomy achieved under 18th Constitutional Amendment had multiplied our responsibilities. He said that from next month his government is going to announce a comprehensive environment policy, which also include scientific management plan for forests. Under the new policy, he said, each forests division will have separate plan. Under which after the harvesting of windfall in an organised and scientific manner there would be complete ban on timbers cutting. Under the new policy, he said, all windfall cases since 2003 will be disposed of. He said that under the policy scientific management plan for eight forest divisions of Malakand and nine for Hazara Division are being given final shape. In this connection, he said a task force comprising of public representatives, government officials and experts is busy in day-night work.
Pervez Khattak while accepting the unanimous request of the Jirga for giving representation in the task force on Environment Policy to MPA Mohammad Ali on Malakand Forest Management Plan directed additional chief secretary for his inclusion in the task force with immediate effect. He said that in past the province used to earn an annual profit of Rs500 million from the sale of furniture wood but after this ban under Red Plus and Carbon Plus World Plan the provincial government for provision of forests and environment has been guaranteed the provision of Rs3 billion per annum, which he said will not only benefit the provincially kitty and royalty holders, but will also protect forests from cutting.
The chief minister said that under Billion Tree Tsunami Plan the provincial government is making efforts for increase in forest covered area for which he said an amount of Rs1 billion has been allocated in the current financial year. He said that from students, teachers and journalists to people from all sections of life would be practically included in this plantation and environment friendly holy war in the province. Acknowledging the honesty, the cabinet members of the coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami and former provincial minister Ahmad Hassan, he expressed the hope that due to such sincere public representatives they will easily achieve the target of plantation and increase in forest covered area.
He said the harvesting and marketing of dried wood was allowed under Dry Windfall Policy 2003 but it inflicted negative impact and a process of the merciless cutting was started. He said their government would never allow such illegal business to harm environment in pretext of legal lacunas and relaxation.
He said that developed nations improved their environment and reached climax of progress by consistently pursuing a futuristic vision and we could also get prosperity and make our environment so friendly by following the pursuit. He said his government would inculcate this spirit of the futuristic approach of development and success whereas we will soon achieve our goals to enter into new vistas of change, he concluded.