ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought reports from provincial forest and irrigation departments on underground water reservoirs and afforestation in their respective provinces.
An SC bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed summoned the secretaries of forest and irrigation departments of the provincial governments at the next hearing.
The court suggested that grown trees of up to six feet tall should be planted along the rivers and canals to strengthen their banks.
The additional advocate general for Punjab informed the court that the provincial government had planted 0.2 million trees.
The chief justice termed the figure insufficient and unimpressive.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan questioned the Billion Tree Tsunami project of the federal government and its effectiveness.
Justice Faisal Arab remarked that forest land had been allotted to private persons in the name of tree plantation.
Chief Justice Ahmed expressed concern over the massive tree cutting in hill stations like Kumrat Valley, Nathiagali and Murree and said this would end tourism in these areas and the country would turn lifeless.
He expressed apprehensions that deforestation would contribute to climate change and lead to a rise in temperature, besides slowing snowfall on hills.
When the Sindh irrigation department informed the court that trees had been planted along rivers and canals in the province, the chief justice termed this information baseless and pointed out that no plantation drive had so far been initiated in compliance with the court directives. He recalled that there were dense forests along the rivers and canals once, but these had vanished over the last few decades.
The additional advocate general for Balochistan informed the court that so far 40,000 trees had been planted by the provincial government and a report in this regard had also been submitted to the court for its perusal.
The apex court warned the provincial governments not to plant trees on “paper only”, but to launch a real plantation drive along the rivers and canals in order to save environment for future generations.
The court also sought a report from the advocate general for Islamabad on the water reservoir in the federal capital.
The hearing on the matter was adjourned for four weeks.
Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2020