Rapidly increasing pollution engulfs Pakistan in thick blanket of smog_Insights_Asia Pacific Daily

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Rapidly increasing pollution engulfs Pakistan in thick blanket of smog

Insights2017-11-13

Plains in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province have been engulfed by a dense blanket of smog which has been chocking the residents of the provincial capital of Lahore and other districts over the last two weeks. Officials from the provincial government have blamed Indian farmers, saying they have been burning the stubbles of rice crops after the harvest, which caused the smog in Pakistan, but experts believe that pollution and mismanagement to curb it has caused the smog. Faheem Khokhar, professor at the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, National University of Science and Technology, told Xinhua that last year the smog was caused by the burning of loads of shuck remains by Indian and Pakistani farmers, but this year the smog has been exclusively caused by inland activities causing air pollution. He said increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads, thermo power projects, smoke from industries and the mushrooming growth of housing societies in urban areas, have caused the smog in the province. Some experts believe that the effects of climate change in Pakistan are becoming increasingly visible in the country, and smog is a recent example. The director at Pakistan's meteorological department, Muhammad Hanif, told Xinhua that climate change is affecting the whole world, but in Pakistan things are changing rapidly, mainly because of deforestation, increased pollution and a prolonged dry spell. Hanif said the kind of smog is formed when pollutants from the combustion of fossil fuels react with sunlight, converting them into other toxic chemicals that are hazardous to health. German think-tank Germanwatch, advocating for the prevention of dangerous climate change, has ranked Pakistan as the 7th most vulnerable country to climate change, with a death toll of 523 lives per year, which equates to 10,462 lives lost in 20 years and economic losses worth 3.8 billion U.S. dollars, which is equivalent to 0.605 percent of the GDP in the 20 year period. The smog, resulting from a long dry spell and air pollution, has wreaked havoc in various areas of the province, with local media reporting that over 20 people have been killed and at least 100 others injured in separate road accidents in the country during the last week. The country's main highways and motorways have been closed at various points to avoid accidents, according to a motorway police spokesperson. More than 1,200 people have visited hospitals in the provincial capital of Lahore alone, after suffering from various viral diseases, Geo News reported. School timings have also been changed due to poor visibility in the mornings. Khokhar said there is huge negligence on the part of authorities as there is no monitoring policy on air pollution, which is becoming more menacing with the passage of time. He added that the smog cannot be completely cleared, but can be reduced by taking measures against pollution-causing factors. The smog has caused disruption in the power supply of various areas in the province, resulting in complete blackouts. Hanif added that that the current smog contains dust, industrial emissions, carbon monoxide ozone and nitrogen oxide which gets mixed with late night moisture and damages insulators, resulting in power outages. Federal Minister for Power Division, Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, told local Express TV that in the past few days, tripping has been noted at 82 points along 500/220-kilovolt transmission lines of the electricity providing National Transmission & Dispatch Company. Similarly, 132 kv transmission lines of distribution companies are facing higher instances of such problems. Noor Fatima, professor of Pakistan affairs at the International Islamic University Islamabad, said that people should own the climate and try to overcome it by making efforts at an individual level. She added that neither the country's government nor its people have prepared themselves for the effects of climate change, which is aggravating the pollution in the atmosphere. More than 30 flights have been affected as operations were suspended at Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport, the spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said. Syed Mubashir Hussain, an official with the environment department, told Xinhua that the provincial government has banned stubble burning across the province and that violators are being arrested. A total of 197 First Information Reports have been filed against violators and 65 people have been arrested due to stubble burning and solid waste burning. He added that 175 pollution-causing units have been stopped, 15,718 smoke emitting vehicles have been confiscated, and a total of about 43,000 U.S. dollars in fines have been imposed. In addition, brick kilns using substandard fuel and running their units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors have also been closed, the official said. Ghulam Rasool, director general at Pakistan's meteorological department, said the recent dry spell in the country is likely to continue for the next few days ahead of a rainy spell likely to hit the country next week, which will possibly clear the smog. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

Plains in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province have been engulfed by a dense blanket of smog which has been chocking the residents of the provincial capital of Lahore and other districts over the last two weeks.

Officials from the provincial government have blamed Indian farmers, saying they have been burning the stubbles of rice crops after the harvest, which caused the smog in Pakistan, but experts believe that pollution and mismanagement to curb it has caused the smog.

Faheem Khokhar, professor at the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, National University of Science and Technology, told Xinhua that last year the smog was caused by the burning of loads of shuck remains by Indian and Pakistani farmers, but this year the smog has been exclusively caused by inland activities causing air pollution.

He said increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads, thermo power projects, smoke from industries and the mushrooming growth of housing societies in urban areas, have caused the smog in the province.

Some experts believe that the effects of climate change in Pakistan are becoming increasingly visible in the country, and smog is a recent example.

The director at Pakistan's meteorological department, Muhammad Hanif, told Xinhua that climate change is affecting the whole world, but in Pakistan things are changing rapidly, mainly because of deforestation, increased pollution and a prolonged dry spell.

Hanif said the kind of smog is formed when pollutants from the combustion of fossil fuels react with sunlight, converting them into other toxic chemicals that are hazardous to health.

German think-tank Germanwatch, advocating for the prevention of dangerous climate change, has ranked Pakistan as the 7th most vulnerable country to climate change, with a death toll of 523 lives per year, which equates to 10,462 lives lost in 20 years and economic losses worth 3.8 billion U.S. dollars, which is equivalent to 0.605 percent of the GDP in the 20 year period.

The smog, resulting from a long dry spell and air pollution, has wreaked havoc in various areas of the province, with local media reporting that over 20 people have been killed and at least 100 others injured in separate road accidents in the country during the last week.

The country's main highways and motorways have been closed at various points to avoid accidents, according to a motorway police spokesperson.

More than 1,200 people have visited hospitals in the provincial capital of Lahore alone, after suffering from various viral diseases, Geo News reported.

School timings have also been changed due to poor visibility in the mornings.

Khokhar said there is huge negligence on the part of authorities as there is no monitoring policy on air pollution, which is becoming more menacing with the passage of time.

He added that the smog cannot be completely cleared, but can be reduced by taking measures against pollution-causing factors.

The smog has caused disruption in the power supply of various areas in the province, resulting in complete blackouts.

Hanif added that that the current smog contains dust, industrial emissions, carbon monoxide ozone and nitrogen oxide which gets mixed with late night moisture and damages insulators, resulting in power outages.

Federal Minister for Power Division, Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, told local Express TV that in the past few days, tripping has been noted at 82 points along 500/220-kilovolt transmission lines of the electricity providing National Transmission & Dispatch Company. Similarly, 132 kv transmission lines of distribution companies are facing higher instances of such problems.

Noor Fatima, professor of Pakistan affairs at the International Islamic University Islamabad, said that people should own the climate and try to overcome it by making efforts at an individual level.

She added that neither the country's government nor its people have prepared themselves for the effects of climate change, which is aggravating the pollution in the atmosphere.

More than 30 flights have been affected as operations were suspended at Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport, the spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said.

Syed Mubashir Hussain, an official with the environment department, told Xinhua that the provincial government has banned stubble burning across the province and that violators are being arrested.

A total of 197 First Information Reports have been filed against violators and 65 people have been arrested due to stubble burning and solid waste burning.

He added that 175 pollution-causing units have been stopped, 15,718 smoke emitting vehicles have been confiscated, and a total of about 43,000 U.S. dollars in fines have been imposed.

In addition, brick kilns using substandard fuel and running their units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors have also been closed, the official said.

Ghulam Rasool, director general at Pakistan's meteorological department, said the recent dry spell in the country is likely to continue for the next few days ahead of a rainy spell likely to hit the country next week, which will possibly clear the smog.

(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

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