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May 9, 2017

Met Office stresses raising heatwave awareness


May 9, 2017

Workshop participants told extreme weather likely this month and the next

The Met Office has stressed on raising awareness among the people in the event of a heatwave this month and the next, urging that all precautionary measures must be taken to survive extreme weather conditions.

“Karachi has witnessed heatwave-like conditions in April, and more of them are expected in May and June,” the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) chief said on the sidelines of the 5th Monsoon Forum & Heatwave Awareness Workshop on Monday.

Dr Ghulam Rasool assured the participants that people would not suffer if they were made aware of how they could stay safe in extremely hot and dry or humid conditions.

The event was jointly organised by the PMD and K-Electric, and was attended by PMD Islamabad experts, city commissioner and deputy mayor, Provincial Disaster Management Authority officials, environmentalists, and doctors and experts from different institutes and universities of the country.

Dr Rasool said the workshop was organised to raise the understanding of people so they could remain safe in extreme weather conditions, adopt precautionary measures and take steps to improve the environmental conditions to make their lives better.

Lauding the KE for its ongoing drive of planting 100,000 saplings this year, he deplored that thousands of trees were unnecessarily felled in the city, worsening the environmental conditions. He urged citizens to plant trees around their homes and in open spaces, and protect them from their children.

He said experts had predicted 30 per cent more rains in Sindh this year, but the increase would be insignificant for the province, where the average rainfall in the entire season was around 100mm. “It shouldn’t be cause for concern. Instead, it would be good for the people.”

The PMD chief said the Japanese government had agreed to replace weather radars of Islamabad and Karachi, adding that tenders for both the radars had been issued and that new and sophisticated radars would be acquired soon.

“Karachi’s radar would help us predict and keep an eye on tropical cyclones, heatwaves and sea conditions, and its acquisition would increase the PMD’s capacity and capability to forecast weather conditions more accurately.”

He suggested building more dams and reservoirs across Pakistan, saying that the country immediately needed to enhance its water storage capacity because it would be difficult to manage water in drought-like conditions in the months and years to come.

Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra deplored that trees were felled by different organisations and contractors without paying heed to the environmental needs of the city, while no truck or machinery was purchased in the past eight years to help remove solid waste and garbage, which turned Karachi into one of the filthiest cities in the world.

Vohra lauded the organisers of the seminar, saying that such events should be held in public areas instead of air-conditioned halls.

He asked the organisers and environmentalists to approach the people and apprise them of the weather and climate changes as well as how they could contribute to improving their living conditions.

Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali spoke about the measures for managing heatwave. She said that instead of taking heatstroke patients to tertiary-care hospitals, special camps should be set up in various localities and local hospitals and primary healthcare facilities upgraded to deal with emergencies.

Ibrahim Zia of the National Institute of Oceanography said sea surface temperature was on the rise globally, but it was increasing alarmingly in the Arabian Sea, adding that due to climatic conditions, Pakistan was facing extreme events relating to sea, including sea intrusion in Sindh and Balochistan.

Amer Zia, head of KE’s distribution operations, said the power company was taking all possible measures to facilitate customers, especially during the summer.

“We have strengthened our networks and systems as well as the workforce through capacity building and technological advancements. All KE staffers will ensure stricter vigilance.

“The company is also maintaining close coordination with the National Disaster Management Authority, Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System and PMD to extend effective support.”