ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Climate Change has failed to kick start the Prime Minister’s “Green Pakistan Programme (GPP) – aimed at boosting forest cover across the country – in the first six months of the current fiscal year.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had tasked the Ministry to start the GPP after he attended the 21st international Climate Change Summit (Cop21) last year. At the meeting, the international community and experts on climate change had appreciated the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s one billion tree plantation initiative in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The Federal government aims to plant 100 million trees under the programme across the country in the next five years.

The Federal government has allocated Rs 2 billion for the programme under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2016-17, but the Ministry has so far failed to utilise a single penny from allocated sum. Sources in the Ministry told The Nation that the Ministry could not start the programme due to a lake of interest by Ministry’s officials.

The sources said that the Ministry had sent a letter to PM Office to finalise a date for its inauguration and the PM Office has suggested August 11 in this regard.

They said that the Ministry had done all the homework in this regard but the launching schedule was changed at the eleventh hour. The sources said that it was the main project which was facing an inordinate delay due to the lack of interest from the PM Office and Minister of Climate Change Zahid Hamid.

The Ministry had also asked provinces to submit their proposals to the Federal government along with financial requirements for implementation of the five-year flagship programme.

Earlier, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government refused to join the GPP with the contention that the Federal government has launched the initiative to counter the provincial government’s billion tree plantation project.

Later, it agreed to cooperate with the Federal government.

Talking to The Nation, PM focal person on Climate Change Syed Rizwan Mehboob said that the Ministry has sent a working paper of Rs 3 billion budget to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) for approval.

He said that the Ministry has also called a meeting of representatives of provinces on “Spring Pakistan” in the second week of January 2017. He said that the Ministry has asked provinces to forward the fundamentals of the tree plantation programme early next year.

He said that the Federal government would start providing funds to provinces after the approval of Rs 3 billion.