KARACHI/SUKKUR: As parts of Sindh remain in the grip of high temperature for the second consecutive day, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) reminded the Sindh government to come up with a contingency plan to deal with the looming heatwave threat.
According to the meteorological department, hot weather in Karachi is expected to continue till Thursday. The mercury surged to 41.5oC Tuesday morning. However, there was a decrease by early afternoon and it was recorded at 40.7oC at 2pm. Pakistan Meteorological Department Regional Director Abdul Rashid said that hot weather will continue till Thursday morning. Rashid further said the weather is likely to remain the same on Wednesday. However, evenings will be cooler than the days, he said.
Similarly, a maximum temperature of 42oC was recorded in Hyderabad with 8% humidity while that in different parts of upper Sindh ranged between 39oC to 41oC. Dadu witnessed the highest recorded temperature at 45oC. While the overall temperature in most of the cities and towns of upper Sindh increased by two to three degrees during the last two to three years, the situation in upper Sindh is far better than that of some cities and towns of lower Sindh. Last week's light showers and gusty winds also helped maintain pleasant weather conditions in upper Sindh.
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Nevertheless, the government has yet to devise a ‘contingency plan’ to deal with the hot weather in Sindh. Officials told The Express Tribune that PDMA has sent yet another reminder to the divisional commissioners to devise the plan but all in vain. "The province of Sindh faced unprecedented heatwave in 2015, which [resulted in] the deaths of several people across the province, [with the] largest death toll in Karachi,” read the reminder sent to all the divisional commissioners. “The department has predicted a rise in temperature in Karachi and other parts of Sindh this year, so please implement the guidelines issued [by] our office.”
The director-general of PDMA, Syed Suleman Shah, said that it is the job of divisional commissioners to come up with a plan. "We have already devised guidelines for different departments, including health, meteorological department, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), traffic police, local government, K-Electric, education department and labour department, et cetera,” he said. “I hope they must be doing their job.”
Shah brushed aside rumours of heatwave hitting Karachi again. "Three things are contributing factors for heatwave – high temperature, increase of humidity and decrease of wind,” he said. “The temperature [has increased a] little but humidity and wind level is stable.”
Forewarned is forearmed: ‘We need to be better prepared for the heatwaves’
Officials in health department confirmed that they have received the guidelines released by the PDMA but implementation has yet to begin. They said that the health department was asked to set up an information centre to collect and share information among the stakeholders, maintain a sizeable stock of life-saving drugs and vaccines and prepare stakeholders for meeting with a heatwave emergency. "Only one seminar has been held and nothing has been done so far," a senior official said, adding that the power utilities were asked to avoid load-shedding but no one took it seriously and hours-long power breakdowns are witnessed in every town and city of Sindh.
Similarly, he said, KMC was repeatedly asked to identify the places where heatstroke emergency centres are to be established and declare its dispensaries to be heatstroke emergency centres with sufficient availability of ice and water. However, the KMC does not even update the PDMA about its precautionary measures.
Meanwhile, the KMC claims no concrete steps from the Sindh government to tackle the ongoing rise in temperature have come forward so far. On the directives of Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, 12 day-care centres were established in different KMC hospitals while Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases will also facilitate heat stroke patients round-the-clock in the city.
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KMC focal person Dr Asghar Abbas said that from Wednesday, camps on footpaths and signals will also be set up under the supervision of the respective District Municipal Corporations (DMCs) and deputy commissioners.
‘We are prepared’
District Central Deputy Commissioner Captain Farid said that at the moment, it’s just a rise in temperature. If there is any heatwave, he said, the Met office would inform us at least 48 hours before. “We are prepared to deal with any heatwave in less than 12 hours,” he said, adding that they have identified six government hospitals in District Central alone where heatstroke patients would be treated. They would also take the services of six major private hospitals.
Apart from that, he said, they would set up camps at 250 different points in the city, where cold water, ORS and first-aid material would be provided to the people.
‘We are also prepared’
Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali told The Express Tribune that the hospital is ready to face any heatstroke and heat exhaustion emergency situation in the metropolis.
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According to her, the hospital has acquired enough supplies, including drips, mineral water bottles and standby chillers, and is ready to cope with increased flow of heatstroke patients.
"We need to create awareness by educating the common people but unnecessary hype regarding heatwave should be avoided," she said.
‘K-Electric has improved’
K-Electric’s chief marketing and communication officer, Fakhar Ahmed, told The Express Tribune that they have improved the system and the shortfall will reach 300 Megawatts in peak summers, which is comparatively low as compared to other parts of the country.
"From 2015 to 2016, we were better,” he said. “And again, from 2016 to 2017, we are much better as far as improvement in generation, transmission, distribution and maintenance is concerned.”
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