Serious Inherent flaws


The recent flooding has exposed serious inherent flaws, public trust among them, in the planning and development strategy of the country, particularly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party is engaged in following its own development agenda to give a facelift to the province for the last nine years.
Taking stock of the flaws and unwanted human intervention, the nature does not only seem to have gone furious over interference in its workings, it has also exposed what is mainly seen to be governance and management issues, calling attention to the problems at the planning stage of development projects before they eat up the country’s already drained exchequer and instill more distrust in the mind of the masses.
One such case in point is the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s brainchild Ten Billion Trees Afforestation Project, which, since the day it was conceived in the PTI’s first stint of rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has raised serious questions to its planning, management and implementation.
On top of all, the August-September flooding in the province laid bare flaws and anomalies in the plantation site selection and implementation of the project. The flash flooding swept away several sites where the provincial government had spent millions of rupees on tree plantation, nurseries and other related schemes.
A report published in this newspaper citing official statistics states that the flooding affected scores of plantation sites located in Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, South Waziristan, Kurram, Orakzai, Khyber, Bajaur, Upper and Lower Dir, Swat, Shanga, Buner, and Hazara division’s Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra and Kohistan districts, incurring tens of millions of losses to the already fragile economy of the province.
The flood rage spurred on by what is alleged to be irresponsible planning and bad selection of plantation sites for the billion tree tsunami project also wrought damages to bio-engineering schemes, land stabilization, check dams, rainwater harvesting, nurseries and water development schemes. A probe by the country’s financial corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau, has also reinforced allegations of financial and management irregularities levelled against the much-trumpeted afforestation project.
Notwithstanding the public outcry over the planning and site selection of the tree plantation move, official statistics and media reports reveal that the BATP managers heavily depended on the existing forest enclosures to achieve the assigned target of planting additional one billion saplings by 2023. However, foresters and farmers are sceptic about the success of the provincial government to achieve the target.
This skepticism, which emanates from the visibly flawed implementation of the project, is said to be nurturing public distrust more than nurturing trees. And, this distrust and skepticism should be checked at the outset, which in later stages of all development schemes compound the already blurred trust scenario.