TAXILA: The district administration of Attock on Sunday constituted two committees to probe the chopping of trees on the premises of the Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital Pindigheb.

Official sources told Dawn that the administration of the hospital felled scores of trees, including sissoo and Indian beach without approval of the district administration and the district health authorities or the area forest officer.

According to the sources, as per existing standing operating procedure (SOP) of the provincial government, prior approval for such work was mandatory.

The sources said one of the committees would be headed by the programme director District Health Authority while the district surveillance officer and the deputy district health authority Pindigheb would be its members.

The deputy commissioner Attock also formed a three-member committee which would be headed by the additional deputy commissioner and consist of the assistant commissioner and subdvisional forest officer Pindigheb.

When contacted, District Health Department Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Sohail Ejaz confirmed that two committees had been formed to probe the matter and fix responsibility.

Responding a question, he said rules were violated while cutting the trees. He said prime minister’s adviser on climate change Malik Aslam Khan had also taken notice of the matter and sought a report.

Despite repeated attempts, Medical Superintendent THQ hospital Pindigheb Dr Shagufta Jabeen could not be contacted for comments.

However, a duty medical officer said the trees were cut to install a transformer and lay new electricity lines.

Assistant Commissioner Pindigheb Haider Abbas said Commissioner Rawalpindi Saqib Zafar during a visit to the hospital had directed for trimming trees and other development work for beautification and facelift of the hospital. But the hospital staff chopped the trees, he added.

Subdivisional Forest Officer Malik Liaquat Hayat said as per SOP the forest department should have been taken on board before trimming or chopping trees.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019