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CHAIRMAN'S DESK

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  1.  
  2. About the Chairman

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  14. Interview with The Chairman
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MONSOON DESK

Nature Strikes Back... Wake up call

mr. raza khanBy
Raza Khan
Chairman APM
August , 2010
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The Climate Change Hits Pakistan again. Torrential Rains inundated Mountainous Areas of the country. Khyber Pakhtonkhawa, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and the boundary districts of the Punjab; Rajanpur, Muzaffar Garh, Rahimyarkhan and Mianwali are facing flood. While the flood warnings have been issued for Muzaffarabad AJ&K, Gujranwala, Gujrat and Jehlum as well.

Low Laying areas of Sindh sooner be drowned as the combined flood would enter the province in a week time. Meanwhile, monsoon heavy rains spell is not over and is expected to continue till the mid of September so two more floods would make the situation worse.

According to Director General Pakistan Meteorological Department Mr. Qamar Zaman Chaudary, rainfall recorded 272mm at Peshawar has broken the all old records. In 1956 the maximum rainfall- record at Peshawar was 213mm.

What can the Climate Change deliver us?

The Climate Change can damage more than a Nuclear War.

It is evident from the earthquake of October 8, 2005, that within five minutes more than 100,000 people were buried alive and about a million were left houseless. Fifty nukes were required to make such a massive destruction in these mountains. For the increased frequency of earthquakes and cyclones, the Climate Change is being accused.

The human made Climate Change is a result of the Global Warming which itself is an outcome of reliance over fossil fuel and forest wood.

Tectonically & climatically year 2005 was the worst year for the Indian Plate. A week before its beginning, Tsunami destroyed millions of people of many nations. Excessive snow produced flash floods in Northern Areas of Pakistan and Swat and at the arrival of monsoon the Chenab River flooded the Punjabi Planes and then in October 2005 earthquake hit the country.

The calamity record for this ongoing year has also mounted towards the worst as well. The Climate Change has started her horrible course in Northern Areas since1998, especially and furiously in Gilgit Baltistan and generally across Pakistan.

The snowfall in winter is an old phenomenon in our highlands. Most of the summer remains dry and it rains in winter rather than snowfall. Deforestation of cloud forests of these ranges are imposing a decline in glaciers that are the life line of the entire Indus River System. The elimination of the hardwood forests has accelerated landslide incidents. For instance, the accidental lake in Upper Hunza is an aftermath of such landslide.

 

Village Bayun in Upper Kalam Swat:would this soil remain intact during heavy rains?

A twenty six kilometer long spontaneous lake has suspended our strategic link with our ally China itself is an ecological lesson delivered by the Almighty Allah. A research conducted by APM Pakistan describes a need of a chain of small lakes across HKH (Hindukush Karakoram and Himalayas) to sustain entire ecosystem and to retain local moisture of the area. The Accidental Lake has proven this research while giving a positive cooling environmental impact to the region. Since the birth of this temporary reservoir, it has been overcastting the sky above Hunza Valley and its adjacent areas most of the time.


If we don't care Nature it would destroy us.

Timber Mafia has wiped out 80% of alpine forests of our highlands. Now, it is the turn of Mother Nature to mend our ways to maintain her ecological balance. Ecologically all the elements and species are mutually dependent and are bound in a food chain. Any missing link can cause the collapse of entire chain. The ecosystem of glaciated (HKH) is on edge because of the Climate Change and massive logging. In year 2020, decline in perpetual flow of the water in Indus River System would intensify enough to make a prolonged drought like situation across the country.

A vital retaliation of Nature is harsh weathers to tame human beings to live adaptively while giving conducive place to other species.


Zaid Khor Kohistan: July 7, 2010. The writer is at logging dump yard of timber mafia.

In warmer Pakistan, snowfall on highlands would become rare & heavy downpours are replacing it.

In the Karakoram, glaciers melting zone is 60 % emptied from ice and above 5000 masl (meters above average sea level) glaciers never melt. Hence, low water levels in the Country Rivers are expected in future.

The winter rains scenario in HKH is a persistent warning of land sliding and flash floods to nation in coming decades.

The global environmental dynamics have been indicating a full monsoon session for the Sub-continent this year as the La-Nina event is prevailing in the Pacific Ocean. So, atmospheric eddies are positively feeding the monsoon propagation over the Indian Ocean and hence over the Bay of Bengal. On the other hand, in early summer, record breaking heat wave persisted over the Lower Indus Plains as mercury touched 55 degree in Mohinjodaro on centigrade scale. The arrival of rainy season was scientifically due to the southern parts of the country at first place. So, Barkhan and Rajanpur District were flooded by the bursting nullahs of the Suleiman Range. The people of these areas have suffered even decades long dry spells. This heat wave first attracted an unusual cyclone named Phet that destroyed Gawadar and left about hundred thousands Pakistanis stranded. In the last week of July, this heat wave was present in the South Western Balochistan as Met Department declared Nokundi the hottest for that week. That indicated more expected rains in the region. While after experiencing a moderate May, the north eastern Upper Indus Plain received Pre- Monsoon Session in early June. The origin of moisture of pre-monsoon is still unknown or yet to be scrutinized scientifically. As its timing is well before the arrival of Phet in the south so, that moisture might be originated in northern areas or perhaps be reinforced by the Accidental Lake.

Climate change and deforestation, both are the factors of flash flood in Pakistan:

Torrential rains have been evident across the country in this decade. Sometimes monsoon drowned Metropolitan Karachi, sometimes it flooded Hyderabad and for other season it broke its record in Lahore for several times. The climate change is enforcing harsh monsoon most of the time, shorter spells with record breaking rainfalls in Pakistan. In de-forestated Mountains fertile land is wasted at the rate of 11000 acres per year. This rate comes to manifolds during rainy season.

Furthermore, monsoon arrival time at Gilgit and in Swat has been around mid of September but today’s monsoon not only arrived earlier in Swat and Kohistan but also played the evolving role of record breaking torrential rains within a day time.

 


Kalam Swat: without tree cover, slopes are waiting rains to slide to block the River Ushu and River Gabral. Resulting flash flood destroyed Kalam to District Nowshehra in late July 2010.

 

The slopes without tree cover slid and caused damming of more than 1000 streams and nullahs of catchment’s areas of the River Kabul, the River Swat, the River Yasin, the River Gilgit, the River Nelum, the River Kunhar and the River Indus at Besham. There was record land sliding incidents that boosted up the flash floods. Including Munda Dam of Swat several other small dams have also collapsed.

Unfortunately Pakistani people have to face the worst flood of the history of the country about more than Twenty million people are helpless and seeking their brethren for philanthropic and swift help.

 


Kaghan July 26, 2010: A village in the lap of Land Sliding Risk just before flash flood.

 

What can we do?
As unanimously accepted fact is that we are passing through ‘A Certain Climate Change towards an Uncertain Environment’ so we must address this issue on emergency grounds to chalk out a plan for sustainable development and fitful survival of entire human race on this planet.

If we are not the part of solution then we are a part of the problem. Besides long term environmental adaptation planning we have to take certain immediate steps on the government level as well. For instance,

Manifesto of the Forest Department must be reformed. During British Empire this department was founded to exploit the jungle wood not to sustain the resource. An immediate ban must be imposed on the alpine forest logging in the mountains and timber mafia should be dealt with iron hands.

A chain of small lakes to restore the glacier melt & for irrigation purposes and to restore local atmospheric moisture must be introduced in KPK, Gilgit Baltistan and AJ&k.

In the glacier reduction and Indian damming scenario, Pakistan has to rely over rain water. We have to waste about ten lac cusec rain water in the Arabian Sea this year. So small dams construction must be on our national top agenda. Moreover, in KPK and Balochistan lack of safety cover and official ignorance has caused the intolerable collapse of such dams.
The Climate Change must be monitored minutely. Though under the umbrella of Prime Minister House, a forum ‘Global Change Impact Study Center” has been working but Pakistanis are totally ignorant of its ambiguous role and outcome.

Pakistan Meteorology Department PMD with its old and very limited advance apparatus is doing its level best. Most of the weather stations have been engulfed by population that is affecting its weather monitoring. Furthermore, all the weather observatories in Northern Areas are well below the perennial glaciers. That cannot help to study receding process. WAPDA has also a Snow and Ice study cell but without a scientific approach.

The Climate Change and Atmospheric Sciences must academically be introduced. PMD has been offering some refresher courses at Karachi University but its not enough to face the challenge.

A mega project of watershed management must be designed to avoid massive land sliding in the catchments areas of Indus River System. It is to National Agriculture Research Council to introduce adaptive crops while be cautious about genetically engineered food.

Green energy generation must be encouraged.

A mass awareness campaign for adaptation should me launched. Educational institution must be included. Although nation has to pay heavy price in Swat and Balochistan for the role of rogue conservation and humane NGOs, but role of community based organizations (CBOs) can never be avoided. So countrywide and consolidated CBOs induction to take collective adaptive measures.

 

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