Tag Archives: Environment

Lahoris breathing poisonous air

A disturbing report from Daily Times – Raza Rumi

* Pollution levels in city’s air have exceeded all internationally declared parametres
* Environment Protection Department spokesperson says department considering all options to control pollution in provincial capital, several awareness programmes being pursued

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: Residents of the provincial capital are breathing poisonous air due to the government’s failure in controlling massive industrialisation in residential areas and containing the growth in the number of vehicles on the road, which has increased significantly with the passage of time, Daily Times has learnt. Continue reading

Lahore’s canal – alternative views

Raza Rumi

I am posting three insightful pieces on TheSouthAsianIdea Weblog that deal with the controversy over the construction of an expressway along the Lahore Canal. Whilst we support the Lahore Bachao Tehreek, it is important that all voices of reason should be reckoned for a full debate. I liked this part:

The bottom line is that it is not the case that there is no need for any new road construction at all. But smart urban growth requires that road construction be integrated into an intelligent plan that is focused on transporting the maximum number of people with the minimum number of vehicles at the lowest economic and environmental cost.

Here are the three articles:

Lahore – A Canal Runs Through It

Save Lahore Canal – sign this petition

Please sign this petition

To:  Citizens of Lahore

As you may have heard, The Punjab government is planning to widen the road on both sides of the Lahore Canal, from Thokar Niaz Baig to Dharampura, as a so-called solution for the congestion on the canal road due to the rapidly increasing automobile population. The Punjab Chief Minister had announced that the project would begin immediately after Eid-ul-Azha, however, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo moto notice and effectively restrained the government from commencing work on the project on 27 November 2009. The government has not fulfilled its legal obligation of carrying out an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)for the project and the lack of transparency of the program is depriving the citizens of Lahore from having a say in this change.

It is the consensus of a great number of organizations and groups of concerned citizens that the Rs 3.15 billion project violates basic principles of traffic design and will not only prove ineffective in countering traffic congestion, but also lead to an outstanding number of problems related to the well-being of the public and the environment. Widened roads have historically proven to only end up attracting more traffic, and the government’s focus on providing for the car-owning citizen over the abounding majority (which requires public transport, sidewalks, public toilets, phones and drinking water) is entirely against the principles of equity. The project also means the cutting down of several thousand old trees and losing over 50 acres of the green belt, which is sure to lead to a staggering number of environmental problems including rising temperatures and carbon and toxic content, not to mention the loss of ancient species of trees and shrubs that provide shelter to a variety of birds and small animals. The historical, environmental, recreational and aesthetic value of this green space cannot be stressed enough.

We demand that our voice be heard to address these critical issues and help preserve the beauty and grandeur of our city.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Saving the canal (Lahore)

Saving the canal
The News, Saturday, August 22, 2009
(http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=194338)

The canal that runs through Lahore represents much that is good about the city. The shrubs, bushes and tall trees that line it give the provincial capital the greenery that its residents have cherished for centuries. The waterway – even today when pollution has tarnished its beauty – offers a kind of calm oasis in the heart of the urban jungle, where families picnic and fitness-lovers jog. It is these factors that have led a group of earnest citizens to renew their campaign against a plan to broaden the road along the canal which would result in hundreds of trees being chopped down. While the Punjab government argues this is necessary to maintain smooth traffic flow, the ‘Save Lahore Movement’ argues the massacre of greenery would inflict great environmental damage and indeed erode the very nature of Lahore. Trees marked for chopping have been chalked and placards put up demanding they be saved. The action by citizens including many women and children has caught public interest, with passers by stopping to find out more. Continue reading

The destruction of Lahore’s environment is a trend that needs to be reversed, says Raza Rumi

Moaning about Lahore’s most elitist enclave, GOR-I, is a contentious undertaking. On the one hand, it was, until recently, the best of what the British left us – lovingly p9aadorned with diverse species of trees, home to glorious specimens of ecologically-friendly architecture and an old-world-charm unparalleled for its simplicity and elegance. On the other hand, it was also a symbol of the extractive, Punjab-centric colonial state of the nineteenth century, lorded over by the agents of the Indian civil service.

But when one has lived in those sublime environs, not as the scion of a landed, aristocratic clan but rather as a member of a middle-class, professional family, what is one to do?GOR-I was a lonely plant of sorts amid the sprawl of Lahore, with trees, birds and orchards one would not have expected to find in an Asian mega-city. Continue reading

Islamabad choking on exhausts

ISLAMABAD: Vehicular exhausts, containing a range of toxic substances, are suffocating Islamabad, according to health experts and environmentalists.

What Islooites ought to be concerned about is that once these substances, suspended in the air, are breathed in by humans the bloodstream transports the toxins to the body’s major organs. Continue reading

Lahore tops list of most polluted cities

ISLAMABAD – Lahore has topped the list of most polluted cities with highest air pollution level of 121.85 micrograms per cubic meter that is three times higher than the safe standards, followed by Peshawar and the Federal Capital.

The facts were revealed in statistics gathered by the Pakistan Environment Agency (Pak-EPA) under its Air Monitoring System. Continue reading

It’s Time for Critical Mass Lahore

critical-mass-invite-april

The last Sunday of the month is approaching, and so it’s time for Critical Mass. I can’t speak for the others (though I know many share this view), but getting on our cycles and going onto the streets of Lahore sends a powerful message: That the streets are open spaces; that men, women and children can enjoy the city and its many delights safely and without fear of molestation; that cycling is a viable form of transport; that the way our cities are managed is deplorable; and that, most of all, we are having fun in our own city and in our own country.

Come join the Critical Mass on Sunday. All you’ll need is a road worthy cycle and a sense of adventure. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Slimy Ravi

A letter to the editor published in the Friday TImes, Lahore.

The Punjab government would do well to rein in one of its offshoots, the environment protection agency (EPA). The agency has issued notices to almost all industrial units located in the Multan Road industrial area for not observing environmental rules and regulations. For instance, having a soakage well for collection of sewage water in factory premises is against EPA rules. EPA reckons it pollutes the subsoil water rendering it unfit for drinking. Even if we agree that EPA has a point, what arrangements has the Government made to provide a sewage system in one of the oldest industrial areas of the city? The city Government has not even provided drains along the road for collecting rainwater, meaning factories in the low lying areas are inundated during the rainy season.

Sitting in cushy offices and issuing notices to industries for breach of law is one thing, assessing the situation on the ground to understand the miseries of the sufferers is another. EPA could justify proceeding against the industrial units only if the Government had provided an alternate arrangement to manage sewage water. Lastly, how does the Government manage city sewage? Does it have a purification plant? Wasa discharges the sewage waste into Ravi; no wonder the water is nothing but slime.

Mirza Tuftan Baig,

Lahore.

Lawrence Gardens, Lahore

Posted by Raza Rumi -
I visited the Lawrence Gardens in August and managed to take a few pictures.
The cricket Pavillion
Lawrence Garden Memories, Lahore
The relaxing policmen

Lawrence Garden Memories, Lahore

Continue reading

Noise levels driving Lahoris crazy

* Environmentalist says noise pollution one of primary causes of hearing loss and cardiac disorders

By Abdul Manan (Daily Times)

LAHORE: Noise pollution in the city is on the rise with most residents complaining that the noise is becoming a public nuisance.

Dr Khursheed Ahmad, Department of Environmental Engineering head at the National College of Business Administration and Economics said: “Noise pollution is one of the main causes of hearing loss, cardiac disorders, epileptic seizures, emotional problems and restlessness.”

He said cars and other vehicles were a main cause of the noise. He said the total number of registered vehicles in the city had increased from 45,000 (1976) to 1.5 million in 2008. “Main residential areas such as the Defence Housing Authority, Johar Town, Township, Gulberg, Askari Flats, Faisal Town, and WAPDA Town have noise levels that exceed the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQSs),” he said.

On August 29, 1993, he said, the Environment and Urban Affairs Division, through a notification, had enforced NEQSs at 85 decibels (dB). He said a recent survey had revealed that residential areas have NEQS levels higher than the permissible levels. He said, “People exposed to 85 decibels for 50 years or more can suffer a permanent hearing loss.” Continue reading

My Amaltas tree

Raza Rumi

I grew up watching an Amaltas (Cassia fistula) grow in our side-garden in Lahore. Each spring would bring flowers on the creepers and shortly thereafter the Amaltas would start blooming with yellow flowers setting fire to the little garden adjacent to my room. Lahore’s roads would also glow in the summer adding much zest to a loveable, hot summer. Heat would make one yearn for the rains. So the cycle of seasons would continue with Amaltas at the centre of transitions and unforgettable for the colour and unfathomable beauty…

In Dhaka, Delhi and so many South Asian cities I have watched Amaltas trees in full bloom. The picture above (taken in Islamabad by a newspaper correspondent) today brought back all those muddled memories. Luckily, where I live now, Amalatas exists with a different local name.

Comforting, like an old acquaintance, it is still there in my life. It has not abandoned me.

More on the Amaltas tree, its properties…

Famous for its laxative properties, amaltas (botanical name — Cassia fistula, Sanskrit name — aragvadha or chaturangula) is a medium-sized tree, which is also the favourite roadside tree of the planners. In full bloom in the summer, amaltas is conspicuous by its bright yellow flowers and long cylindrical fruits. Continue reading

Lahore goes green – Roshni’s German-style bread is growing popular

Rina Saeed Khan writing for the Friday Times, Lahore

Roshni’s German-style bread is growing in popularity in Lahore

As the demand for pesticide-free fruits and vegetables has spiked in Pakistan over the last few years, organic farmers have seen a boom in interest. In organic farming, vegetables and fruit (and wheat, rice etc.) are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals. Organic farmers rely instead on crop rotation, integrated pest management, crop residues and animal manure to maintain soil productivity and to control pests and weeds. The stated aim of organic farming is to “sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings.”

Organic farming relies on the earth’s natural resources to grow and process food. It is not a new concept – before the use of agro-chemicals became popular, this is how our forefathers grew their own food!

 With this humble beginning we want to highlight the idea of organic farming and environment friendly lifestyle and make organic products available to you,” said the notice inside the newly opened Roshni Organic Shop opposite Shapes Gym in Lahore’s Gulberg area. For years now, Lahoris have been feasting on Roshni bread, the delicious and healthy wholegrain bread, made by the Roshni Organic Bakery. The various kinds of Roshni bread (linseed, rye flake, plain, toast) are sold in different outlets throughout Lahore and are made from natural ingredients grown by organic farmers. The small and simply decorated Roshni shop now offers these breads along with other bakery items like quiches, cupcakes and pastries. The shop also offers other organic food items like fresh vegetables, dry fruit, herbal teas, natural oils, sugar, rice and cereals. It is a treat for all those who are concerned about their health and the environment. Continue reading

Cottage industries must be registered

Daily Times Report

LAHORE: The city government has started cracking down on large factories in residential areas, believing them to be a source of nuisance to residents.

District Officer (Environment) Tariq Zaman told Daily Times on Friday that there were almost 5,000 cottage industries in residential areas. He said that the city government would advertise in newspapers on Saturday (today) to tell the owners of these factories to get themselves listed with the government within 15 days. “The objective is not to discourage cottage industry, but to shift the larger ones away from residential areas,” he added. He also said that once listed, the government would check whether the factories came under cottage industry or not.

Mercury rising:Factories in Lahore emitting tonnes of mercury in air daily

By Abdul Manan

LAHORE: Factories in the city are pumping hundreds of kilogrammes of mercury in the city’s air and water while the Environment Protection Department (EPD) has so far done nothing to curb this lethal pollution.

Talking to Daily Times, an EPD official said, “Mercury pollution is a very serious matter and should be dealt with on war footing.” He said that about six months ago, the federal agency for environment launched a project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to prepare an inventory of mercury pollution. He said the federal agency tasked the EPD to do the work in Lahore, “but the EPD has done nothing and the expensive laboratory equipment [used to measure mercury in the air and water] is kept locked in the EPD store.”

He said the federal government had given the EPD the task to hold awareness seminars and programmes to sensitise factory owners on the increasing mercury levels in the city’s environment. But no such programme had been held, he added. Continue reading