PESHAWAR: Previously the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has planned to plant 100 million trees under the much-trumpeted Billions Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project this monsoon. It has been learned that around fifty percent of these trees are comprised of Eucalyptus or gum trees while the remaining 50 percent consist of as many as 42 other different species of trees. As of now, the government has successfully planted around 190 million trees ever since the programme was launched two years ago, noted Shabbir Hussain, Project Director for the programme. He also added that they had concrete plans to achieve the target of sowing 100 million plants this monsoon. Many environmentalists including Atiqul Mabood–Environment Manger at a private organisation in Peshawar– are of the view that the Eucalyptus plants generally require more water than other plants and is always sowed in the areas, badly impacted by water logging. “Many countries plant gum trees to cure water logging,” he explained. He said that planting gum trees in the normal and agrarian soils as well as in the areas already under the water table would spell disaster for the province, particularly Peshawar. Elaborating on his argument, he noted that all the areas in the Peshawar valley were not suitable for such plants, with the exception of only those areas affected by water logging. “Once the gum tree is sown it multiplies even after cutting if the roots stayed intact,” he added. On the other hand, Shabbir Hussain stated that the basic reason behind the inclusion of a huge number of Eucalyptus plants in the programme was to cure water logging and bring the barren soil under cultivation. He also said that the plantation would turn the once water-logged areas into ecological zones. He admitted that they were very careful in the selection of the places for plantation, as they also knew that a wrongfully guided step would lead to a disaster. He also clarified that they had provided plants to the people as they had demanded. “It is them (the people) who ask for gum trees,” he maintained. When asked, Mabood said that alongside providing the plants to the local people, the authorities concerned should also create awareness among the cultivators about the selection of plants for different kinds of soils. In Peshawar, the first phase of the programme was launched in the five zones of Regi Model Town (RMT) under the plantation drive on the International Day of Forests–March 21, 2016. A large number of volunteers from various educational institutions in Peshawar partook in the plantation drive covering approximately a 10-kilometer green belt in the centre of the road that passes through RMT. At least 100,000 trees were planted at Regi Model Town during the campaign, the officials claimed. Muhammad Naveed, an official at the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) contradicted with the claims made by the authorities of Billion Trees Tsunami Project. He said, “after recounting the plants, we found out only half of the plants of what claimed by the authorities concerned were sown in RMT.” The PDA official maintained that they were assured by the forestry department of providing the missing plants. Six kinds of different plants were sown in all five zones of the RMT, said the official. He said that only 30,000 plants out of 50,000 sown at RMT were in good shape and might become a tree. Naveed claimed, “had the government tasked the PDA with the plantation drive in Peshawar, the result would have been different today.” According to Rehmatullah, President of Gardeners Association at Regi Model Town, the plantation drive was not carried out as per plantation standards. He explained, “many of the volunteers were not aware of how to sow a plant. A professional gardener would sow two plants at least five feet away from each other. It took us (the gardeners) to uproot the plants and sow them again keeping the standard distance between the plants. Umair Bittani, a residence of RMT, has a different take on the issue of the plantation. He said that the government should confer the responsibility of looking after the trees on the common and local people. The project was launched by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government some two years ago aiming at planting one billion trees by 2018. Earlier, Ziaullah Toru, a former Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Department, had levelled allegations of embezzlement in the KP government’s flagship project against the chief secretary’s brother and brother-in-law.