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Monday July 22, 2024

Boiling point

Heatwaves have made their second appearance in Lahore, where the temperature rose to 43.3 degrees C on Monday

By Editorial Board
June 26, 2024
A volunteer sprays water on a bypasser’s face along a street during a hot summer day in Karachi, May 30, 2024, amid the ongoing heatwave. — AFP
A volunteer sprays water on a bypasser’s face along a street during a hot summer day in Karachi, May 30, 2024, amid the ongoing heatwave. — AFP

Since Sunday, at least 27 unclaimed bodies have been found in different areas of Karachi. According to Edhi Foundation, the dead included drug addicts, and while it is normal to find two-three dead bodies every day, the surge in the number is likely due to extreme temperatures in the city, which is currently in the grip of heatwaves. This condition is not restricted to Karachi. Heatwaves have made their second appearance in Lahore, where the temperature rose to 43.3 degrees C on Monday. In Balochistan, hot weather conditions have created many problems for residents. In Turbat alone, the mercury reached 48 degrees C.

The government has been repeatedly told that it should set up relief camps for people. These spots help the helpless get the vital aid they need to keep their bodies hydrated and get some respite. Social media is full of images of people sitting near bank ATM kiosks to feel the cold wind coming out from the small gaps in the glass door. The 27 people who lost their lives cannot come back, but the government can save hundreds of other such people by setting up camps at bus stands and traffic signals. Temporary rest spaces should be made to allow people to escape the heat. We say that natural disasters do not discriminate, but in a country where inequalities are everywhere, the already burdened people are more likely to face the extreme effects of climate-induced catastrophes. Amid all this, the behaviour of power supply companies has been dismal. From Karachi to Lahore to many parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, power outages are back. While there are legitimate concerns regarding power theft and lack of payment, perhaps such punishments can wait till after the current heatwave. In the event of a natural disaster, we should chalk out one goal for ourselves: protect as many people as possible regardless of what their life choices are.

There is also a pressing need for long-term strategies to address the underlying factors contributing to these tragedies. Investments in infrastructure, healthcare, and urban planning must consider climate resilience to safeguard communities from future heatwaves. Government agencies, civil society organizations, and citizens must unite in their efforts to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that no one is left behind in the face of such adversity.