Persistent dry weather set to turn Punjab smoggy

PMD lacks proper equipment to make precise predictions about pollutants and resulting smog


Sehrish Wasif October 31, 2017
Smog hangs in the air around Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Owing to a persistently dry and cold weather as well as a high level of air pollution, some cities of Punjab will experience dense smog, experts have warned.

A senior environmentalist informed The Express Tribune that smog in Punjab would be seen from early November, however, due to the unavailability of comprehensive data pertaining to suspended particles in the air it would be difficult to ascertain when the smog would be at its heaviest.

“However, based on the current weather conditions and the generally high levels of pollution, I can say that Gujranwala, Lahore and Faisalabad will be smoggy just like last year,” he said.

Citing fumes from cars, burning of trash and smoke from industries as some of the sources of pollution, which cause smog when coupled with dry and cold weather, he said, “It is unfortunate that the government has still not come up with a strategy to combat air pollution, despite it being harmful for both humans and animals, especially for cattle, to inhale smog.”

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Pakistan Meteorological department (PMD) chief Dr Ghulam Rasul told The Express Tribune that the foggy season had arrived in Pakistan well before its time, and that smog was expected to follow soon.

He added that smog would be treated as an unusual, extreme weather event, adding that although the problem was not new, smog was never discussed in the past due to the lack of awareness.

“The dry spell is a result of climate change, which adds to the issue of smog. However, owing to the PMD’s lack of equipment for measuring pollutants in the air, you cannot predict smog patterns before time,” Rasul said.

He elaborated that Pakistan’s dry spell that started in September would continue till next year. “PMD has warned relevant authorities about the dry spell while also advising them to properly utilise the existing water resources in the country,” he said.

Last year, during November, Lahore and its cousin cities in India, were very smoggy due to the excessive burning of crops in Indian Punjab, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). People in the heavily smog-infested areas developed lung, throat and eye infections.

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