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September 5, 2018

Weather information key to ecological survival


September 5, 2018

Islamabad : Tower of weather surveillance radar set up at the headquarters of Pakistan Meteorological Department is a new smart and beautiful addition in the skyline of the Federal Metropolis. From Faizabad and Zero Point bridges, the radar proximated by a lofty huge National Flag in H-8/4, the tower gives an enchanting look with green Margalla Hills in the background.

The Japanese supplied radar system is taking care of 400 kilometres around Islamabad. It provides data about clouds heavy rainfall, lightening, thunderstorm, hailstorm and windstorm in the areas including Mianwali, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Hazara, Malakand, Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu and DI Khan. Pakistan is having such radars covering 150 to 400 km now in double digit.

PMD which has offices and observatories in many cities and at important locations within cities is a public service facility that provides weather information from very important and sensitive outfits to general public through handouts, telephone, emails, press releases, website, newspapers, radio and television. Its daily data helps Pakistan Air Force, Civil Aviation Authority, NAMDA, airlines, farmers and even general public for preparing against any sporadic calamity out of blue moon or plan action in the following day(s), week(s), even month(s) for making charts for plowing, planning, irrigating and harvesting crops, vegetables, fruits and looking after livestock.

I frequently receive calls from friends and farmers knowing my interest and liaison with weathercocks if rain or wind storm expected on a particular day(s) or night(s) when someone intends to sow, harvest, put a lantern of a house, even arrange a wedding or ‘aqeeqa’ function to avoid last minute troubles. If report is negative, they go for inside fiestas.

Though people fond of seeing half glass empty usually criticise the findings of not only PMD but many other websites carrying weather forecasts hourly, daily, weekly, even monthly, one can see those very persons tapping their smart-phones or computers to see latest forecasts which evince the efficacy and “denied fait” in the forecasts.

One may agree or not, the best forecasting site is the official PMD site because it has observatories spread in 69 cities and localities in the four provinces, GB and AJK.

In Islamabad, in addition to its main data collection centre at Zero Point, it has meteorological observatories in the twin cities at Chaklala, Saidpur, University of Arid Agriculture, Golra, Bhokra and Dhamial in addition to Chakwal and Murree observatories in the vicinity of twin cities. Its many radars and satellite communication provides it detailed information from within the country and the region to present their analysis in words and graphics.

Which should be the ministry looking after this important department? You now the civilian interest is gradually increasing here due to the linkage of weather, Climate Change and environment in a country with its economic, demographic, social, even existential interests.

From 1947 to 2012, it remained under the Ministry of Defence when it was placed under Civil Aviation Division which worked under Cabinet Secretariat. But the need of the time is to place it under the Ministry of Environment renamed as Ministry of Climate Change in the post-18th Amendment era.

From Universities to farmers to urban planners, the information churned out by PMD are needed by all sundry. One should not place such a Department in demand as hot cake under the outfits which love to remain shrouded under mystery.

In case of PMD, there was a positive progression. Now it is high time that the Met Office goes to Ministry of Climate Change which is the custodian of our wish to come out of fear of misery, calamity, death and annihilation due to pollution, deforestation, degradation of environment, global warning and Climate Change.

It is as true for Pakistan as it is for India, China, Italy, Turkmenistan, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Saipan, Mozambique, Egypt, or New Zealand. This is true for all countries. It needs international cooperation irrespective of who is friend and who is foe because:

Environmental, seasonal and whether information is a common heritage. It must be placed under public domain.

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