Air pollution is a silent killer

Muhammad Amir Saleem

Air pollution is taking heavy toll on us, yet we are hardly conscious of it. According to WHO (World Health Organisation) 2016 report, Pakistan has worst quality of air and it ranks 4th among most polluted countries while China and India ranks 1st and 2nd respectively. Around 6.5 million deaths are caused by indoor and outdoor pollutions globally every year. In Pakistan, 59000 people die every year on account of it. Karachi, being the largest city in terms of population in Pakistan, ranks 9th in the index of most polluted cities in the world. Coughs, respiratory diseases, skin and eye allergies are common illnesses caused by it. Why do we think it a trivial issue? And, why not we seek out who is responsible for these unwanted deaths? Are we so naive or do we pretend to be ignorant? Scores of solutions are available to this, for instance, if proper air quality monitoring system is installed at specific places in a city, pollution contents – gases/particles- could be identified! But, no such scientific monitoring of air or water quality mechanism is in place in Pakistan. This is the reason why the pragmatic approach to tackle this issue remains unattended. Whereas, in world, a number of measures are taken to control air pollution in major cities: the use of electric and hybrid vehicles, introduction to bio-fuel engines, restriction on diesel vehicles; pushing factories out of cities; and free emission zones within city. In addition to this tree plantation schemes are initiated to minimise the effect of carbon emission; and public transport network is strengthened to reduce the movement of private vehicles. Further, a strict check and control system is devised to monitor the condition of engines, in case of excessive carbon emission- a car or vehicle is not allowed to be used; and expansion of cities are done on sustainable basis so that there may be no impact on available resources and environment. The political leaders would be loved and liked by common people, if they highlight and work for resolution of basic issues of people. Political rhetoric and point scoring cannot befool people for long because sooner or later, realisation and gravity of issues comes in the open.

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