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Monday July 15, 2024

Good rains, snowfall from third week of Jan to March expected: PMD

Replying to the queries of senators, he said smog towers were expensive and had not proved effective scientifically

By M Waqar Bhatti
January 11, 2024
Tourists while enjoying the snowfall in Murree. — Online
Tourists while enjoying the snowfall in Murree. — Online 

ISLAMABAD: Good rains, besides snowfall in the northern areas, are expected in the country from the 3rd week of January 2024 under the influence of westerly waves, which may continue till March or even April.

The rain and snowfall will end fog and smog like conditions in the plains of the country, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) told a Senate Panel on Climate Change on Wednesday.

PMD officials claimed that emissions from coal-based power plants, brick kilns and vehicular emissions were responsible for the phenomenon of smog, which was first time witnessed in 2012 in the plains of Punjab while dense fog seen in Islamabad was not fog as air in the capital is still relatively cleaner than cities of Punjab.

“The month of December is going dry without any significant rains in Pakistan for the last 22 years, which is also contributing to formation of smog in the plains of Punjab. Smog is now extending to the areas of Sindh while Islamabad has started witnessing fog due to absence of rain in the first week of January 2024,” Director General PMD Mahr Sahibzad Khan told the Senate’s Standing Committee on Climate Change.

“We are expecting some good rains from the 3rd week of January, which will continue till March or may even extend to the month of April under the influence of westerly waves. We are also expecting snowfall on hills in the northern areas during this period, which would end fog and smog in the country,” the director general Met added.

Replying to the queries of senators, he said smog towers were expensive and had not proved effective scientifically and added introduction of electric vehicles could produce good results in improving air quality as vehicular emissions had 45 percent share in the smog formation in Lahore and other areas of Punjab.

During the meeting presided over by Senator Seemee Ezdi, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination provided the committee members with a comprehensive briefing on various aspects of fog, including its formation, types, frequency in winter and the related issue of smog, covering its types, causes, and impact.

Senator Farooq Hamid Naek emphasised that fog is a natural phenomenon, whereas human activities contribute to the formation of smog. He stressed the need to implement measures to combat smog, particularly in areas like Lahore.

The ministry clarified that both carbon-intensive industries and general pollution contribute to smog. It was conveyed that 45 percent of smog is attributed to vehicle emissions.

In discussions about the way forward, the ministry emphasized key factors, such as enhancing fuel quality, implementing mandatory annual certification for vehicles, promoting clean energy and sustainable transportation, adopting cleaner agricultural practices, improving waste management, raising public awareness and education, and implementing urban forestation.

The ministry affirmed that Living Indus has been selected from among 150 applications for the World Restoration Flagship of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and this achievement was commended by the committee members.

Furthermore, the ministry officials also briefed the committee on the Living Indus initiative, emphasizing its aim to restore the ecological health of the Indus Basin within Pakistan. They highlighted extensive consultations with the public sector, private sector, experts and civil society, resulting in a comprehensive list of 25 preliminary interventions. These interventions focus on water and flood management, resource mobilisation finance, social inclusion, knowledge base and legislation, pollution control, agri-forestry and biodiversity.

It was conveyed that the financing strategy for Living Indus will concentrate on international support, public finance, community involvement and public-private partnerships.

Moreover, former senator Nisar Memon provided a detailed briefing on the new convention on Delta Unite (The Convention on Conservation of Deltas). He highlighted the challenges of the Indus River, emphasising that the real issue lies in surface and groundwater, posing a regional and global challenge.

The meeting was attended by senators Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Farooq Hamid Naek, Taj Haider, Abida Muhammad Azeem, Keshoo Bai, Khalida Ateeb, ex-Senator Nisar Memon and others.