PESHAWAR – The Billion Trees Reforestation Project (BTAP), a flagship PTI government program in the green sector, has proven to be an oasis for thousands of workers who do not have jobs and daily bets for better livelihoods for their families during the COVID lockout testing period 19
Around 66,291 unemployed workers were given environmentally friendly jobs at 10 BTAP after they lost their jobs due to the closure of industrial units, public transportation, hotels, SMEs, tourism, mining, minerals, construction and other sectors for nearly two months confined in the country.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about 22,000 green jobs were given to workers and day laborers, 17,391 in Punjab, 3,500 in Balochistan, 11,900 in Sindh, 3,000 in Gilgit Baltistan and 8500 in Azad Kashmir.
Speaking with APP, the Project Director, Muhammad Tehmasip said, “Following the decision of the Federal Government and the KP to create employment opportunities for workers affected by COVID-19 in the green sector, the Forestry Department of the KP has taken the lead role by providing employment to around 22,000 workers unemployed in their nurseries, forest cover and greening programs “.
These workers are given jobs in tube nurseries and rooted naked, forest cover, watering new plantations, public mobilization for greening, spring planting and protection of forest programs. Every worker is paid Rs15,000 per month and Rs1,500 per year, he said.
“We are strictly following the Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) announced by the Government of COVID-19 to ensure the safety of workers in the workplace in addition to providing masks and maintaining social distance,” he said.
“Globally, this work is called ‘green work’ because it reduces pressure on forest and wildlife resources, ensures community economic empowerment, combats climate change and keeps the economy running during emergencies such as locking COVID-19,” Tehmasip said.
“These workers and day laborers are hired to quickly reach the 100 million tillers spring planting target by 30 June 2020.” To date, he said 90 million tillers were planted during the spring and the remaining 10 million will be sown in June with the help of the national building department, farmers, volunteers, students and the general public.
“Spring plantations are running smoothly on the KP because no adverse effects from the coronavirus have been witnessed on 10BTAP, but the greening campaign is accelerated because of the easy availability of workers,” he said.
The Project Director said the first phase of BTAP was launched in 2014 where more than 1.20 billion tillers were planted on 2.30,000 hectares and 4,509 forest enclosures, which recorded a record six percent increase in KP’s total forest area of 26.3 pc in 2018 compared to 20 , 3. pc in 2013.
Under the project, he said, 10 new small and large forests were raised in the province including Ghari Chandan Peshawar where more than 3.2 billion plants in 32,000 hactares were raised to control pollution, temperature and provide better livelihoods for workers.
“Ghari Chandan’s forest is bigger than Changa Manga. It has created breeding grounds for native and exotic wild species including eagles, bears, houbara bustards, cranes, common leopards, monkeys, foxes, wolves, wolves, wolves, pheasants, black & gray pheasants, honey bees and national chakor birds to develop, “he said.
Considering the great success of the first phase of BTAP, Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched 10BTAP in 2018 where 10 billion young trees will be planted in all four provinces including an additional one billion plants in the KP by 2023. Under 10BTAP, he said. percent of planting will be done in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 30 percent in the combined area (formerly Fata) where large tracts of land are available for reforestation.
Farhatullah Khan, Joint Area Conservatory, said plantations and sowing targets set for spring had almost been achieved in Bajaur district and work in forest enclosures was ongoing to regenerate natural plants in inaccessible and mountainous areas in seven tribal districts.