Billions of Trees Afforestation Project (BTAP), a flagship program of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) government in the green sector has been proved an oasis for thousands of jobless laborers and daily wagers to earn better livelihoods through green jobs for their families during the testing times of COVID-19 lockdown.

As COVID-19 has effected every sector it has made many people jobless as well. Approximately, 66,291 jobless workers were provided green jobs in 10 BTAP after they lost employment due to closure of industrial units, public transport, hotels, SMEs, tourism, mines, mineral, construction, and other sectors during the nearly two months lockdown in the country.

These laborers were given jobs in a tube and bare-rooted nurseries, forest enclosures, watering new plantations, mobilization of public for afforestation, spring plantation, and protection of jungles programs.

Each laborer was being paid Rs15,000 per month and Rs1,50,000 per year, he said.

“We are strictly following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) notified by the Government against COVID-19 to ensure the safety of laborers at workplaces besides provision of masks and maintaining social distancing,” he said.

“Globally, these jobs are called ‘green jobs’ because it reduces pressure on forest and wildlife resources, ensures economic empowerment of communities, combats climate change, and keeps the economy running during emergencies such as COVID-19 lockdown,” Tehmasip said.

“These laborers and daily wagers were hired to quickly achieve spring plantation target of 100 million saplings by June 30, 2020.” To date, he said 90 million saplings were planted during the spring season, and the remaining 10 million would be sown by June next with assistance of national building departments, farmers, volunteers, students, and the general public.

Syed Ishtiaq Urmar, Provincial Minister for Environment, Forests, and Wildlife said that coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected almost all socioeconomic sectors especially daily wagers and laborers for whom special programs were launched in the green sector to create jobs opportunities for them. He said, “Green Stimulus” package has recently been approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan to create job opportunities for thousands of laborers and daily wagers affected by COVID-19 lockdown.

Under the package, a ‘Green Nigehabaan’ initiative would be launched to provide employment to around 65,000 youth and daily wage earners in the first phase by making them a part of the 10BTAP campaign. He said community participation would be ensured for the success of this pro- laborers and environment-friendly projects besides the accomplishment of “Clean and Green Pakistan.”