Islamabad - The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) on Thursday launched the drive for planting one million trees during fiscal year 2016-17. The Authority has allocated total Rs30 million in the annual budget for the purpose.

To mark launch of the campaign, a ceremony was held in Islamabad. Minister of State for Water and Power Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali, the chief guest, signaled start of the campaign by planting a sapling. WAPDA Chairman Zafar Mahmood, Member (Power) Badrul Munir Murtaza and General Managers of various WAPDA Projects were also present on the occasion.

Under the drive, WAPDA aims to plant one million trees at various sites of its projects in the four provinces, AJ&K, Gilgit Baltistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) during the two plantation seasons of the fiscal year, 2016-17.

Different species, including Sheesham, Kikar, Pine, Sukhchain, Cheer, Neem Dharek, Eucaplytus, Silver Oak and Phulai, will be planted in the catchment areas of Mangla and Tarbela Dams, canals, drains and other completed and on-going hydropower projects.

Out of total allocated amount, Rs14 million will be spent by Mangla Watershed Management to plant 700,000 trees in the catchment areas while Rs16 million will be utilised for planting 300,000 trees by other WAPDA formations.

Under the proposed plan, some 30,000 trees would be planted in South Region, Tarbela and Mangla dams each; 10,000 trees in Ghazi Barotha, Warsak and Chashma; 100,000 in North Region; 700,000 in Watershed Management Mangla, 25,000 in small hydel power stations of Punjab and KP, 40,000 in Kachhi Canal and 15,000 at the sites of projects underway in Northern Areas, including Besham.

Talking to media persons on the occasion, the minister said plantation would not only help stop silting in dams but would also have a good impact on the environment.

Regarding PTI’s campaign against the government, the minister said the party wanted to create anarchy in the country. "The provincial government has failed to deliver and is now making lame excuses for face saving," he said.

He claimed popularity graph of the PML-N government had increased owing to various mega development projects that, he said, were attracting huge foreign investment.

“The recent thumping victory of PML-N in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and local government elections show that people repose confidence in the policies of the incumbent government,” he made another claim.

Abid boasted that the PML-N had a practicable development agenda and loadshedding would be over in the country by 2018.

The minister said not a single corruption case of the PML-N government had surfaced while several ministers were removed in KP on charges of corruption.

He alleged that all contracts in KP were given to Jahangir Tareen, a PTI leader, while Director General of Ehtesab Commission was also removed when he pointed out the corrupt practices.

It is pertinent to mention here that WAPDA planted millions of trees at various project sites, including the catchment areas of Mangla Dam under Watershed Management Project during the last five decades.

Owing to various such measures, the life of Mangla reservoir has increased to 212 years from the estimated 110 years.

Speaking on the occasion, WAPDA chairman said that in the past too, WAPDA had planted hundreds of thousands of trees at its projects.

The chairman apprised that the life of Mangla reservoir had enhanced to about another one hundred years due to effective watershed management programme, successfully implemented by WAPDA.

“Tree plantation proves to be the most effective remedy in this regard,” he added.