Govt orders audit of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project

Published April 25, 2021
The Billion Tree Project’s government nursery in Haripur. — Photo by Asim Ali/File
The Billion Tree Project’s government nursery in Haripur. — Photo by Asim Ali/File

ISLAMABAD: The government has ordered a special audit of the Rs125.8 billion Ten Billion Tree Tsunami after finding changes in the PC1 of the project without the approval of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for any modifications.

Documents seen by Dawn show that the audit was suggested by the Ministry of Planning and Development and Special Initiatives that found deviations in federal and provincial components of the approved project.

The audit was ordered based on the minutes of the meeting while reviewing the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project in January.

The changes were made on the directions of the Ministry of Climate Change. Deviations from the PC1 included changes in the names of projects being implemented in provinces, surrendering of funds due to the Covid-19 situation under both forest and wildlife components, and failure to appoint project directors for some programmes and inefficient use of funding.

The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project Upscaling of Green Pakistan initiative was approved by Ecnec in August 2019.

Besides the project to improve air quality standards of Islamabad, the federal component also included programmes such as the establishment of Margalla Hills National Park Conservation, Development and Execution of Comprehensive Plan for Islamabad as model city, besides plantation activities and water standards for the capital city.

However, in the provincial components, the Ministry of Planning and Development observed that the Ministry of Climate Change had directed to stop the construction of a zoo in Balochistan due to inefficient use of funding by the concerned wildlife departments.

Out of the Rs300 million released in the fiscal year 2019-2020, an amount of Rs93 million had been utilised by the Balochistan government.

The remaining Rs200.7 million was surrendered after the Ministry of Climate Change ordered it to stop the work. The ministry of Planning and Development also noted that funds were not being released on time, both from the federal and within the province due to clearance from many departments and asked the chief secretary, government of Balochistan to look into the issue for efficient utilisation of finances, as Balochistan needed special attention in the matter.

In Punjab, the ministry of planning observed that the wildlife component had been changed without approval of the component forum besides staff has not been posted with supporting office equipment and vehicles.

“The issue with Auditor General Pakistan needs to be resolved, the funds release and transfer to provinces and non-payment of salaries of newly recruited staff is a matter of great concern,” said the Ministry of Planning and Development.

The ministry also said that the wildlife component did not show satisfactory progress in any province under the billion tree project. The ministry also directed the Ministry of Climate Change that if any deviation was made from approved PC-1, it needed revision if work had not started, otherwise ex-post facto approval was not granted.

Climate change secretary was asked to look into the issues of any deviations from the approved billion tree project.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2021

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