Cold wave -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Cold wave

Pakistan Press Foundation

The story is the same every winter. The temperature drops, there is snow and rain in different parts of the country and the government is at a complete loss in coping with it. The problem has been particularly acute in Balochistan, where an emergency was declared after just two days of snow. Most cities in the province were without electricity after transmission lines tripped and many roads were blocked. About 24 inches of snow have fallen in the province in the last couple of days, the most in a decade, but should not have brought the entire province to a standstill. With thousands of vehicles still stuck, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority only acted once the worst damage had been done when it should have plans in place for winter well in advance. Roads need to be salted to clear the snow and routes reopened as soon as possible. Transmission lines should have been repaired by now. In other parts of the country too there is chaos, with Chitral cut off from the rest of the country due to closure of the Lowari tunnel, at a time when air link to Islamabad is also affected due to weather conditions. In Punjab, the problems were nothing new. As happens whenever there is a cold wave, gas usage goes up. Yet, once again, no plan had been developed to deal with this entirely predictable increase in demand for gas.

In the case of Punjab and gas, it is true that we are facing chronic shortages and so it is not possible to immediately increase supply. But these shortages have persisted for years and yet we continue to divert gas for the use of LNG in vehicles and are now even importing LPG for the same use. Meanwhile, no progress has been made in pursuing a gas pipeline bringing gas from Iran. It is the same lack of foresight which plagues Karachi where one day of rain was enough to flood most roads. This is entirely the fault of the provincial government, which has done nothing to clear storm-water drains that are being used as waste depositories and which continues to allow more encroachment on the coast and the continual felling of trees. Given the suffering the public is going through around the country, one would think a natural disaster had struck Pakistan. But all we have experienced is a few days of slightly harsher winter than usual. The problem is entirely man-made since the government refuses to prepare for such predictable eventualities and then acts as if there is nothing that can be done about extreme weather events. The fault lies not in the climate but in the uncaring attitude of our representatives.

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