PESHAWAR - The environmentalists and forestry experts here Monday welcomed ‘Green Stimulus’ Package (GSP) recently approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan and termed it a landmark step forward to generate employment opportunities for thousands of labourers and dailywagers affected by COVID-19 lockdown.

Provincial Minister for Environment, Forests and Wildlife Development, Syed Ishtiaq Urmar lauded the PM’s ‘Green Stimulus’ package in the aftermath of coronavirus pandemic and declared it pro-labourers and environment friendly besides a need of the hour.

Talking to APP, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s politics was revolving around the poor people of Pakistan as evident from his widely appreciated Ehsaas Cash Emergency Program, Construction industry and ‘Green Stimulus’ package.

Inspite of limited financial resources, he said these gigantic packages were launched to help address financial woes of poor labourers, downtrodden and disadvantaged families. He said green stimulus package was a landmark initiative of the government that would help bring positive impact on increasing forests resources, combating desertification and climate change challenges.

The Minister said ‘Green Stimulus’ package was a part of the government’s efforts to extend green cover in all four provinces besides creating job opportunities for youth, labourers and dailywagers affected by coronavirus.

He said that Green Stimulus was part of 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestration Project (BTAP) aimed at bolstering plantations, setting up of nurseries, natural forests, and promotion of honey, fruits and olive plantation in Pakistan.

Under the package, a ‘Green Nigehabaan’ initiative would also be launched to provide job opportunities to around 65,000 youth and daily-wage earners in the first phase by making them a part of the plantation campaign.

Muhammad Tehmasip, Project Director 10 BTAP while appreciating Green Stimulus package said this positive program would generate employment opportunities for youth especially unemployed workers affected by COVID-19.

Following directives of Federal and KP Governments, he said Forest Department has opened its nurseries, forests enclousers and plantations across the province and has provided jobs opportunities to 22,000 labourers and dailywagers who were unemployed due to closure of construction industry, transport, hotels, industrial and others sectors during the lockdown.

He said each labourer was being paid Rs500 per day that means can earn upto Rs1,50,000per year to support their families on financial front.

He said Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) notified by the Government against COVID-19 was strictly being ensured for the safety of labourers besides provision of masks to dailywagers and maintaining social distancing at workplaces.

Tehmasip said these labourers and daily wagers were hired to quickly achieve spring plantation target of 100 million saplings by June 30, 2020.

The project director said 90 million saplings were planted during spring season till date and remaining 10 million would be sown by June next.

He said spring plantation was smoothly underway in KP as no adverse effects of coronavirus has been witnessed on 10BTAP rather afforestation campaign was expedited due to easy availability of labourers.

Chief Conservator Malakand Region, Niaz Ali Khan has also appreciated Green Stimulus program and declared it a  step forward to combat climate change challenges besides create jobs opportunities for youth in green sector.

He said vast scope for plantation was existed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa especially in merged areas where vast land was available for afforestration.

He said cooperation of masses was imperative to make the afforestration programs successful.