‘One family-one tree’ programme for a green Pakistan
Deforestation is a very serious issue in Pakistan. It is caused by lack of awareness, unavailability of basic facilities, especially supply or shortage of natural gas or any other alternatives of fuel resources for daily use, and some other factors. People cut trees that take years to grow and to grow back.
treeNo massive plantation drive took place in the past at governmental level. Public and private organisations arranged plantation drives but that was limited mostlyto photo sessions and media coverage. After those plantation drives, most of the planted trees dried due to negligence.
In 2014, PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government launched the “Billion Tree Tsunami”, an afforestation project at the provincial level.The same project started at the federal level in 2018 and enhanced it asthe “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami” Programme. The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs125 billion. It is a mega project, and government is spending heavy funds to make it possible and a reality. Government arranged plant nurseries in the centre and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and provided trees for plantation. Heavy amounts of public funds and government machinery for theprogramme have been allocated to planttrees on mountains and available areas to convert Pakistan into a ‘Green Pakistan’.
Plantation of trees in such a big number is a big step and effort by government to mitigate the challenges of global warming and climate change. Aggressive awareness campaigns are being run on print, electronic and social media. It can be a great achievement even ifhalf of the targeted number is achieved.
Prior to this programme, different previous governments, relevant departments and private organisations also attempted and launched plantation drives but mostly failed. The PTI government took a risky decision and launched the programme with a massive target in billions.It is important that the programme is a success as a heavy amount of public funds is being spent.
Sustainability of the massive plantation drive is a question mark because these types of projects could not get the required results in the past. Why? Because the relevant departments do not plan for the sustainability or survival of the planted trees. Planted trees on public places, mountains and on unattended lands dry out. Nobody was ready to take ownership and to take care of the planted trees, although, on paper, heavy funds were allocated and spent to take care and irrigate the planted trees.
Government should ensure arrangements for proper sustainability and growth of trees but that is not possible even if all available resources are used.However, if parallel to the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project, government launches the’one family-one tree’ programme all overPakistan,the results would be better.
Government do not need any funds to arrange trees for the one family-one tree programme
Here comes the relevant question: how will the government monitor and ensure that each family is taking care ofthe proper growth and sustainability of the drive?
NADRA is one of the best data-based systems in the world. This system is linked withother departments: passport and immigration system, banking system, Pakistan telecom authority (PTA) sector, NAB and excise and taxation system. No one is out of this system. NADRAhasallotted family numbers to all citizens in the system with full details of all other family members.
PTA, like other departments has access to send messages and alerts to all existing telecom customers of all telecom companies.
This service can be utilised to ensure proper sustainability of the suggested planted trees of one family-one tree. The NADRA system allots a family number to all citizens and even maintains the data on the expansion of families. NADRA using the same family number as a tree number for one family can generate bulk text messages to every citizen. That message could be an effective instruction to a selected family to plant and maintain that tree forever.
Government do not need any funds to arrange trees for the one family-one tree programme. Every family can easily arrange one tree from its own budget. Government only needs to develop a bulk messaging service, which is already in use by PTA for different kinds of public service messages. Once a year, relevant district management authorities can arrange surprise visits for a monitoring purpose, and it would not be necessary to supervise all trees in the area. One or two random checks in one village would be enough. There would be no need for any special visit or arrangements, as during a routine visit relevant authorities could question families.
People who do not carry a mobile phone can be approached through a general announcement at the union council level, and the same office can be used for monitoring.
Trees planted by families would have a more sustainability chance, as they would purchase trees with their own money. With the minimum use of technology, funds and aggressive awareness sessions in print, electronic and social media, government can get positive results from the proposed one family-one tree programme.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.