India/Pakistan According to a Daily Pakistan report , toxic smog is looming over Lahore and many other parts of Punjab in Pakistan. Their media claims that it is not a by-product of pollution that Pakistan is producing. In fact, they are inferring that this pollution produced within Pakistani boundaries is largely contributed by ‘rival’ India, which NASA in its forecast has observed.
The NASA forecast points out the high levels of “fire and thermal anomalies” in Pakistan.
A fact that has been speculated by many experts is that the smog has branched from industrial and vehicular emissions and it is thought that it has originated from India.
“The report says that the pollutants are from staggering amount – 32 million tons (30 billion kg) of leftover straw – being burnt by Indian farmers, which is an age-old practice,” the Daily Pakistan quoted.
Diwali celebrations and its fireworks across the border have also been cited as one of the major reasons for this staggering amount of pollutants in the air.
However, images published by NASA suggest that burning of crops in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana in India, could be the biggest reason behind the air pollution in the region.
CONDITIONS IN PAKISTAN
The national climate change expert and former Director General of Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, Dr Qamar uz Zaman is also of the view that the main source of pollutant in Pakistan’s lower atmosphere is India’s Eastern Punjab, where many coal-based industries are centered.
Lahore, including northern and central Punjab in Pakistan, have been surrounded by a dense layer of smog where sunshine is negligible as the haze continues to spread over their skies.
In Pakistan’s Punjab, fog has caused road accidents and flights may soon have to be delayed.
Dr Sajid Rashid, Principal Environment College, University of Punjab, has blamed burning of fields of stalks in the Indian state of Punjab as the main reason for rising level of smoke in the air.
“Unfortunately, in Pakistan, we lack the equipment for real-time monitoring of air quality,” he said talking to DP Global.
Government has urged Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers who are deployed to guard Viphya Plantation against destruction to be vigilant by dealing with the perpetrators accordingly.
Msaka (left) walking in the plantantion
Minister of Mines, Energy and Natural Resources, Bright Msaka, made the statement Tuesday after touring the plantation, especially areas under the jurisdiction of Total Land Care and Raiply Malawi Limited.
Incidences of fire destroying numerous hectares of trees every year have been a never-ending song for the Viphya Plantation for over a decade now. The plantation is shared by two districts of Mzimba andNkhata Bay.
However, the issue has raged on in spite of efforts by government and its stakeholders to plant trees and guard them against destruction. Reports have indicated that more often, the fires that destroy the plantation are deliberately set rather than accidental.
The minister said government is aware that some disgruntled workers and individuals whose licences were cancelled are the ones setting fires in the plantation.
People need to know that this is a national asset, so if the department of forestry has denied somebody a licence for the reasons best known by the department, they are supposed to understand instead of setting fires, he said.
To mitigate the challenge, Msaka said government deployed MDF soldiers in protected forests across the country as a way of scaring people from destroying the plantations.
In spite of the effort, some people are still setting parts of the Viphya Forest on fire, regardless of the size of trees.
We have directed the Malawi Defence Force solders to deal with anyone setting bush fires and operating in the forest without licences and that the law will take its course [against them], he warned.
However, Msaka commended Raiply Malawi Limited and Total Land Care for utilizing the forest sustainably and adding value to the trees from the forest.
In the past, we have been cutting trees or sawing and selling them abroad at a very cheap price. We behaved like a prodigal son who squandered all what his father gave him.
We need to be very careful and be proud of what we inherited so that we can benefit from it and pass on those benefits to the next generation, advised the minister.
Earlier, Chief Executive Officer of Raiply Malawi Limited, Thomas Oomen, cited bush fires and encroachment as major challenges facing his company.
This year alone, we have lost about 526 hectares [of trees] to bush fires, unfortunately, most of these trees are below 15 years old but they are supposed to be harvested at the age of 25. This is dooming our future, said Oomen.
Chikangawa Forest consists of seven plantations comprising 53,000 hectares.
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