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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Indus River declared ‘2nd most polluted’ in world

This alarming status is attributed to the direct discharge of drainage water from 388 cities in Pakistan into the river.

During a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change at the Parliament House, officials from the climate change ministry informed the committee that the Indus River has now become the second most polluted river globally. This alarming status is attributed to the direct discharge of drainage water from 388 cities in Pakistan into the river.

The meeting presided over by Senator Seemee Ezdi, touched upon the unusual weather conditions in Islamabad, notably intense fog at the airport. The Director General of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Mahr Sahibzad Khan, explained that the heightened fog was a result of insufficient rainfall in December.

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However, he expressed optimism about an increased likelihood of rain in the upcoming days, particularly in the last week of January. Khan elaborated on the formation of smog, stating that it is a consequence of toxic substances from various gases. Notably, he attributed 45% of smog to the emissions from vehicles.

Senator Farooq Hamid Naek raised concerns about smog in Pakistan, emphasizing that while fog is a global phenomenon, the country is accountable for its own smog. He pointed out the contribution of the Sahiwal coal plant to smog, highlighting that the coal for this plant is sourced from Karachi. Naek suggested that locating the coal plant near Karachi would have been a more prudent choice.

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Climate Change Secretary Asif Hyder Shah informed the committee about the reduced cold intensity in Islamabad in January compared to previous years, attributing it to the effects of climate change. He acknowledged the pressure faced by Pakistan at the recent 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to transition away from coal plants. While presenting arguments in defense of coal plant usage, he conceded that eventually, the country would need to shift towards alternative energy sources.

Shah stressed the importance of ceasing the burning of crop waste in fields to combat smog. Additionally, officials from the climate change ministry reported the closure of five brick kilns in Islamabad and the adoption of the zigzag method in some brick kilns as positive steps.

The officials underscored the negative economic effects of climate change and emphasized the need for oil refineries to utilize high-quality oil. In summary, the discussion highlighted the urgency for Pakistan to address environmental challenges, adopt sustainable practices, and consider alternative energy sources to mitigate the impact of climate change on public health and the economy.