KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed forest department to develop two separate blocks of forests each one spreading over an area of 10,000 acres near Karachi and Hyderabad to control environmental pollution and improve overall environmental conditions in both cities of the province.

He issued these directives while presiding over a meeting of Forest Department here at the CM House. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Secretary Forest & Wildlife Asif Hyder Shah, chief conservators and other concerted officers.

The chief minister said that huge lands of forest department are lying barren near Karachi and Hyderabad. “These both cities are facing environmental pollution, therefore two separate blocks of forest may be developed near them,” he said and added each block must be spread over an area of 10,000 acres and they should be watered through drip irrigation system.

Giving presentation to the chief minister, secretary forest Asif Hyder Shah said that the total forest land in the province of Sindh is 3.3 million which come to 10 percent of Sindh’s surface area. The forest include mangroves or coastal forests, barrage area agricultural sustainability through trees/forestry, Riverine forests and Irrigation Plantation (IP) and Range Lands – desert-trees as tools for drought management.

He showed a base map of 140,914 square kilometers forests which include Irrigation Plantation over an area of 202,622 acres, Riverine Forests over 595,511 acres, Range Lands over 1,129,000 acres and mangroves of 1,500,000 acres.

Talking about the achievements of forest department, Asif Shah said that mangroves have been planted over area of 175,000 acres during the last five years. “We broke the Guinness world Record of planting trees in one day in 2009 and again set a new record by planting 847275 in 2013. On this the chief minister gave him new target of planting one million mangroves in March. “I would personally launch the drive on March 23,” the chief minister said.

Giving details of major achievements of the forest department during 2017-18, the Secretary forest said that 21,000 acres or 8.92 million mangrove plants were planted in six month, another 21,000 acres would be planted in June 2018 and in order protect the newly plants a community watch and ward system has been developed. He added that natural regeneration of about 180 to 200million plants has already been made.

The chief minister was told that Riverine Forests over 5,000 acres or 100 million seeds have been broadcasted. New plantation (IP) has been made over 1000 acres which come to 700,000 plants. 12 million container plants in the nurseries have also been developed. The forest department has also carried out Linear planation over area of 400km.

The chief minister directed the secretary forest to issue notice to the Lessees who have violated lease conditions. He also directed him to remove encroachment from the land of forest.