Dry Weather – Threat to Health and Agriculture

Persistent dryness, high level of pollution and below-average
rain during the month of December has resulted in spread of weather-related
disease in Lahore. The prevailing weather situation has also become alarming
for the fruit and wheat growers. A significant increase in the number of
patient suffering from flu and cough has been observed in the past few weeks.
An EPA official told that the city is currently observing a
high level of toxic pollutants in the air which are causing weather-related
diseases among citizen while the department is helpless in dealing with the
current situation. He said that rain can provide respite as it will wash away
toxic pollutants from air.
Punjab University Environment College Principal Dr Sajid
Rashid said that both sources; vehicles and industry are the main sources of
adding to pollution level and it is imperative to take precautions in order to
minimise their effects. He said that the ongoing construction works on
different roads of the city are also causing the clouds of dust mixed along
with other hazardous toxic chemical are worsening the situation.
Sajid also observed that the situation is not just causing
diseases among citizens but also posing threat to the agriculture sector. He
was of the view that the delay in rain may affect quality of season’s favourite
fruit, orange, as rain is the best source to develop sweetness in the fruit. He
added that if current situation persists, then it may cause another spell of
toxic smog similar to the recent smog of November 2 this year.
He added that the accumulative pollutants in the atmosphere
due to lack of rains would encourage fog formation during the period and
advised people to take extra care so as to avoid diseases caused by prolonged
dryness and cold.
Senior physician Dr Salman Kazmi told that the current
weather situation has caused up to 50 per cent increase in the number patients
visiting hospital daily. He said that these patients have been complaining of
ear, nose and throat infection which are caused by high level of toxic
chemicals in the atmosphere. “Asthma patients and children can be easily hit in
such weather situation”, Kazmi said, suggesting that children, elderly and
asthma patients must be provided extra care.
Extension Agriculture Director General Dr Anjum Buttar told
Pakistan Today that the department is conducting meeting to review the
situation regarding impacts of weather on crops particularly wheat which is
considered as one of the main crops of country.
He agreed that situation may be alarming for the upcoming
wheat crop if there is no rain in next month but the actual assessment can be
done in the month of March to tell whether or not the set target will be met.
Anjum informed that the agriculture department is working to
make an advisory with the help of other departments.

Experts also have forecast that there are less chances of
downpour even in the month of January and also in February the rain will be
below than the average.

Source: Pakistan Today

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