Pakistan Threatens Farmers With Jail Over Stubble Burning

by GoNews Desk 3 weeks ago Views 451
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Charging Pakistani farmers for stubble burning under a colonial era law may do little to deal with the air pollution problem, writes Xari Jalil in thethirdpole.net

 

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Autumn has changed for Pakistan’s Punjab province over the last few years. A season that was once loved for its crisp weather after sweltering summers, a time for outdoor activities, has now become a season full of respiratory illnesses, allergic conditions, and repeated warnings from environmentalists telling the public to confine themselves indoors.

Thick blankets of smog were initially viewed with shock, now their inevitability is a cause for despair.

From Zartaj Gul Wazir, the federal Minister of Climate Change, to the provincial (Punjab) Environment Protection Department, the consensus in Pakistan is that the problem is India’s stubble burning. The government also insists that stubble burning in Pakistan is next to non-existent because the ban is being fully implemented here.

NASA satellite images do show more red spots denoting high heat emissions – fires – on the Indian side. On the Pakistani side there are a few scattered places where such spots are located.

But Ahmad Rafay Alam, an environmentalist and lawyer, says that this is because Pakistan may have burnt only about 35% of its rice stubble yet. When the rest will be burned, the picture may change. Alam recently helped his teenage daughter, Leila, along with other students to file a writ petition in the Lahore High Court highlighting how the provincial government has been misleading the public by using a more lenient air quality index (AQI) compared to countries like the US. Among other issues the petition also accuses the government of not publicising air quality readings.