NA:(Govt preparing a comprehensive National Forest Policy: NA told)

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Wednesday that the government is preparing a comprehensive National Forest Policy aimed at curbing deforestation and increase forests.

This was stated by Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid while responding to questions of members in the National Assembly. He said the process of consultation on the draft policy is in its final stage and revised version of draft policy will be presented before the Council of Common Interests in its next meeting for consideration.

Zahid Hamid said on the direction of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Climate Change is engaged actively with the provinces, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Federally Administered Tribal Area and Capital Development Authority, to finalize the forestation measures at the national level.

Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary told the House that the government has taken a number of steps to provide education and training facilitate to disabled persons in 11 institutions in the Federal Capital.

Minister of State for Education Mohammad Balighur Rehman told the House that a total of 35407 scholarships have been awarded under 24 developmental projects of Higher Education Commission, including three special schemes exclusively launched by the government for the students of Balochistan.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad told the House that communication links including telephone and mobile services are available in 159 cities of Balochistan. He pointed out that PTCL has 130 telephone exchanges operational in Balochistan.

On a point of order, Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah criticized the government for not holding regular meetings of the Council of Common Interests to sort out the issues relating to province. He said strengthening of the Parliament is prerequisite to strengthen other institutions of the state.

Responding to a call attention notice moved by Shah Jee Gul Afridi regarding delay in the approval of thousands of Schedules of New Expenditure in the FATA, Minister for State and Frontier Regions told the House that all the Temporarily Displaced Persons will be repatriated to their respective agencies and FATA by the end of this year.

He said steps are being taken for recruitment against various vacancies in education, health and levies departments before thereturn of the TDPs. Taking part in the discussion on President’s address to the joint sitting of the Parliament, Shafqat Mahmood urged the government to check the increasing population growth.

Marvi Memon said the government has increased the budget of the Benazir Income Support Programme from 40 billion rupees to 102 billion rupees to facilitate the poor.

Participating in the debate, Dr Nafeesa Shah demanded that meetings of Council of Common Interests, National Economic Council and National Finance Commission should be held regularly to discuss important issues. Meanwhile, the House was adjourned due to lack of quorum to meet again today (Thursday).

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