PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday summoned the federal secretaries of power, finance and science and technology for responding to a petition seeking introduction of alternative sources of energy in forest areas to prevent the use of tree wood as fuel.

Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim fixed Jan 25 for the next hearing directing the secretaries to appear before them to explain how alternate sources of energy could be introduced in forest areas, especially in Chitral, Swat and Upper and Lower Dir districts.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by an resident of Chitral, Abdur Razak against the felling of trees by the people, especially in the winter season for own use.

He requested the court to issue directives to the relevant officials to check the practice.

Chitral resident challenges felling of trees

The petition was filed last year through advocate Malik Mohammad Ajmal and during its pendency, the chief justice had issued several orders to the relevant officials for devising alternate sources of energy.

During a hearing, the court had directed the energy ministry to produce a report about what alternate sources could be to that of the use of forest wood in the areas.

Subsequently, a report was submitted by the government wherein some alternate sources were discussed including production of energy through cattle dung, use of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and taking benefit from the government’s announced winter electricity consumption package.

Director of the energy ministry Abdul Rasheed Jokhio turned up before the bench on behalf of his ministry, whereas additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah appeared for the provincial government.

Advocate Malik Ajmal said the use of LNG was not feasible as it was very expensive and its price is around Rs250 per kg.

The chief justice observed that ruthless felling of trees had been a practice in those areas, especially in the winter season, due to absence of any alternate sources.

The bench observed that it had been asking the government to take the issue seriously and devise a strategy in this regard.

It asked the government representatives why the government had not been introducing solar energy in the forest areas, which will help reduce cutting of trees.

The chief justice observed that with onetime investment in such projects, cheap electricity could be obtained there.

The bench wondered asked who were the concerned officials to summon for discussing this matter including production of solar energy in the forest areas.

Later the bench decided to summon the three federal secretaries so as to devise a plan of introduction of alternate sources of energy in those areas.

The chief justice observed that it was a serious matter and the court would not turn a blind eye towards it.

Malik Ajmal said the Constitution guaranteed that no person should be deprived of life and liberty and in light of the superior courts decisions, the definition of life included the quality of life.

He said the continuous felling of trees left negative impact on the environment in Chitral, Dir, Swat and other forest areas.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2021



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