We are told that Karachi is likely to experience a five-day heatwave from this week. According to the Pakistan Meteorological department, due to low pressure in the Arabian Sea off the Indian coast, the sea breeze along the Pakistani coastline will lessen. In such conditions, temperatures in the country’s coastal areas, including Karachi, will gradually increase during the next four to five days, resulting in moderate heatwave conditions. Daytime temperatures in Karachi may cross 40° Celsius, it is feared. As weather patterns change, we see how frequently temperatures in Karachi have started to soar. Who can forget the weather witnessed in 2015 in which more than a thousand people lost their lives? It is time the government started to take action to address the issue.
While trying to help change weather conditions is a long- term issue, there is a lot we can do in the short-term. To begin with, we need to address the issue of tree cover in the city. In the past, two municipal governments tried their best to plant as many trees as possible in public areas of the city. But with the change in the government, and pressure from greedy advertisers and public officials, thousands of these trees were cut down to make space for advertising billboards. Thanks to greed amongst our leaders and planners, a number of green areas have already disappeared. Parks in many localities are intentionally neglected so that they can be sold to builders who then make hundreds of apartments at the site in violation of all civic and environmental laws. It is time someone took ownership of the city. The present PPP government has only seen the city as a cash cow and let different quarters abuse it at will. As a result, the city’s environment continues to deteriorate and the ultimate sufferers are the poor and middle-income residents who suffer when heatwaves strike. We need Karachi to talk to itself so it can try and alleviate the sufferings of its residents. Till that is done, heatwaves will continue to wreak havoc in the city while the government looks the other way.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2017.