LAHORE - The Punjab government has enhanced the minimum punishment to three-day jail and fine up to Rs 50,000 for cutting down trees in Lahore and other major cities.

Through amending the Parks and Horticulture Authority Act 2012, the government has prescribed summary trial for the offence of cutting trees to award the minimum sentence of three days’ jail and fine of the said amount.

A high level meeting presided over Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif yesterday reviewed steps for the promotion of horticulture and plantation in big cities including Lahore.

The meeting also gave approval to purchasing modern transplanter for shifting a tree from one place to another and setting up of modern nursery on the pattern of Chinese model in Jallo Park.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif told the meeting that Punjab government is promoting horticulture in the province for the sake of beautifying the cities and also use it as a big help to overcome the problem of pollution.

He said it is in line with the policy of the government to make the development projects beautiful and attractive through horticulture, wherein plantation of trees on dividers between roads is a vital part.

The chief minister directed that after amendment in PHA Act 2012, strict implementation of the new law be ensured. He asked the department to plant saplings and ivy on the open places around drains. He said that speedy steps should be taken for the promotion of tree plantation and horticulture in big cities including Lahore. He said that walls and surroundings of flyovers and underpasses should be made attractive through horticulture and that walls of buildings around roads made green through horticulture and ivy.

He also directed the department for planting trees and grass on the sides of metro bus routes, stations and bridges for their beautification. He said that running PHA on modern lines is need of the hour, therefore, reforms should be introduced for capacity-building of PHA.

The chief minister directed to evolve a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation of parks of Lahore. He said that benefit should be taken from modern technology and special attention paid to institutional mechanism.

He sought a comprehensive plan to be framed with the cooperation of Forests Department for the promotion of tree plantation.

The PHA DG gave briefing about horticulture and tree plantation. Kh. Ahmed Hassan, MNA Jaffer Iqbal, Inspector General Police, Vice Chairman PHA Iftikhar Ahmed, Commissioner Lahore Division, Secretary Housing, DG LDA and concerned officials attended the meeting.

Green Office initiative deal: WWF-Pakistan and Banglalink Digital Communications Limited signed an MoU to implement the Green Office Initiative at their head office in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This is the first international office working with WWF-Pakistan on the programme.

The implementation of the Green Office programme will help Banglalink reduce the use of electricity, paper, travel, water and waste in the office which will not only reduce associated costs but carbon emissions as well.

The Green Office team of WWF-Pakistan will liaise with Banglalink to devise an environment management system to set targets to cut back on the use of resources. The Green Office Initiative is geared towards bringing a behavioural change in its member offices, therefore regular trainings and workshops will be conducted to raise awareness amongst Banglalink's employees to ensure effective implementation.

According to Nazifa Butt, Manager Environmental Assessment/Green Office Initiative, WWF-Pakistan, ‘Organizations can cut direct and indirect carbon emissions from their offices and minimize their contribution to climate change through the implementation of the Green Office Initiative. Green Office certified companies aim to reduce their dependency on erratic electricity and water supply in the country. There’s a continuous push to find renewable energy alternatives and even building rainwater storage facilities in many of the member offices.’

The objectives of WWF-Pakistan's Green Office Initiative are in line with the recently announced national policy to reduce carbon emissions from Pakistan by at least five per cent. WWF-Pakistan’s Green Office Initiative is an extension of WWF-Finland's Green Office concept which provides the working community the opportunity to work with WWF's international goal to provide a better living environment.

The Green Office Initiative was started in the country by WWF-Pakistan in 2009. Till now, a total of 45 offices have signed up for the implementation of the learning programme in order to reduce consumption, save costs and to improve environmental sustainability. Last year, 11 Green Office member organizations saved a total of 600 metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.