ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) has failed to launch the Green Pakistan Programme (GPP).
The deadline for formal launch of the project lapsed on August 11.
Under the project, envisioned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, 100 million saplings will have to be planted across Pakistan from 2016 to 2021 to improve the forest cover and greenery to fight climate-induced devastation and catastrophes.
The government had also approved Rs2 billion for two financial years — 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 — of which Rs1 billion was to be released this year under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the project.
A total of Rs10 billion will be spent on the project during the next five years with 50 matching grants by provinces.
Climate Change Ministry (MoCC) Secretary Abu Ahmed Akif told The Express Tribune that last month a summary had been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office for inaugurating the project but the ministry was still waiting for a reply from the PM Office.
Another official at the ministry said that due to health issues and the ongoing assembly session, the prime minister could not spare time for launching the project.
Deputy Inspector-General (Forest) Abdul Munaf Qaimkhani said that August 11 had been fixed as a tentative date for inaugurating the project with the consultation of provinces and other stakeholders.
He said that due to the PM’s busy schedule and personal health issues the programme could not be launched formally.
“Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan have submitted their project concepts, while the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister has given the approval to provide a matching grant for the GPP,” Qaimkhani said.
He said that the ministry had recently submitted a concept note of the GPP to the Planning Commission.
Usually, monsoon season in Pakistan starts from the first week of July and continues till the third week of September.
According to the Met Office, this year, monsoon rains started in the third week of June and the spell is expected to continue through the third week of September.
The Met Office’s data shows that this year the country received rains six per cent below average during the initial weeks of monsoon.
“A deviation of plus-minus 10 of rains is considered as normal,” Met Office Director-General Dr Ghulam Rasul told The Express Tribune.
He, however, said that extreme events could not be ruled out in the remaining monsoon season.
Rasul said that this year typhoon season in the Pacific Ocean started early, which suck the flow of Indian Ocean monsoon towards the south China Sea, which affected the dynamic of monsoon in south Asia including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
“In such a situation, the monsoon in south Asia is weaker than the normal,” he said.
Forest experts consider August as the best month for plantation because of low temperatures and repeated rains, which help saplings to expand their roots.