Commissioner Malakand Syed Zaheer-ul-Salam said that according to the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, not a single tree would be allowed to be cut down in the entire Malakand Division while strict action would be taken against the violators. Talking to APP in an exclusive interview, Syed Zaheer-ul-Islam said that timber mafia had become very strong and deforestation had taken place during the militancy time but now action has been taken against timber mafia to maintain environmental change and beauty of the region. Action has been taken against the forest department and 30 officials of the forest department have been suspended for corruption, he informed, adding, “Thousands of new plants are being planted on a daily basis for the promotion of forests.” However, he said, flood prevention and landslides are at risk. To prevent this, he said, illegal constructions along the river have been removed and 42 illegal hotels have been demolished and action against 95 such illegally constructed hotels, restaurants, shops and other points was taken with the aim to restore the beauty of the river. He said that against the timber mafia and restoration of forests in their original condition Phase 1 and 2 have been completed while steps are being taken on phase 3 which includes rehabilitation of dilapidated roads and provision of best facilities to tourists. Commissioner Malakand said that practical steps are being taken to promote tourism as per the directions and vision of the Prime Minister. However, the tourists should show responsibility and ensure compliance with the government SOPs of Coronavirus, he said. Syed Zaheer Ul Islam said that the present govt has given the status of tourism to the industry as tourism plays an important role in the economy of the country. Local people, including the country, will get employment opportunities through such a huge potential we have of tourism. He said that eradication of environmental pollution is at the forefront of the current government’s manifesto and joint efforts are needed to achieve this goal. Commissioner Malakand said that the provincial govt in collaboration with the federal govt has launched the Billion Tree Afforestation Project, the success of which is still being appreciated globally. Billion Tree will usher in a green revolution across the country. He said that the importance of forests cannot be denied. Forests are an invaluable gift of nature. In order to control climate change, afforestation is urgently needed today which we all have to do as an ongoing charity, he said. He said that climate change and environmental pollution are becoming a serious threat to the whole world while the emission of harmful gases is increasing day by day. Therefore, he said, a clean and green environment is urgently needed for human survival. He said, it is imperative that every individual of the nation fully supports the government in the protection of forests and elimination of environmental pollution and try to play its role in creating a green and lush environment by planting at least one plant. The govt has initiated effective action against the timber mafia which causes environmental degradation for its own short-term interest, Syed Zaheer Ul Islam said. Deputy Commissioner Swat Junaid Khan said that Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan has issued special instructions in this connection and the laborers planted more than 900,000 fast-growing eucalyptus trees at regular, geometric intervals in different tourists’ spots. Junaid Khan said, it has been ensured to have similar plantation around each of the sports developmental projects like International standard Cricket Stadium as par with the PCB and ICC approved at Kalam, and besides Kalam, Saidu Sharif, Malam Jabba Skiing Resort, Mataltan, Maho Dan, Gabin Jabba Top, Maidan, Bahrain, Kalam and other areas have been selected for huge forestation. “The titanic task is just a fraction of the effort across the province of KP and before it was completely burnt land, now they have green gold in their hands,” commented DC Swat Junaid Khan. He displayed pictures of the site previously, when only sparse blades of tall grass interrupted the monotonous landscape. The new trees will reinvigorate the area’s scenic beauty, act as a control against erosion, help mitigate climate change, decrease the chances of floods and increase the chances of precipitation, says Junaid Khan, who personally visits each and every point where the plantation of trees continues across Swat District. Residents also see them as an economic boost—which, officials hope, will deter them from cutting the new growth down to use as firewood in a region where electricity can be sparse. “Now our hills are useful, our fields have become useful,” says 76-year-old Hashim Ullah, a tenant of Maidan, Swat.