Misal Khan, (83), who was busy like a honeybee while threshing his wheat crop at his fields under the blistering sun in his native village, suddenly collapsed after feeling dizziness apparently due to heatstroke. Being a resident of Dheri Ishaq in Nowshera district, Khan’s sons, who were also around and busy in work along with their father rushed to a nearby clay pot and sprinkled water on his face and head in order to get their father senses but to no avail. ‘I dashed towards my ‘Baba Jan’ after he fell off the thresher on a hay-stock and became unconscious. We suddenly bundled him into a datsun in a hurry to shift him to a nearest Government Rashid Hussain Shaheed Hospital, Pabbi after witnessing blood was oozing out from his nose profusely and mouth was foaming.
“My Baba was all-well in the morning and had a breakfast with us before mustering labourers for threshing wheat in open fields at about 12:10pm in a sweltering sun,” Khurshid Khan, his younger son at Pabbi hospital observed while talking to APP. He said the doctors informed him that his father had suffered severe heat- stroke, which ruptured his nasal vein causing bleeding.
“The patient’s condition was precarious when he was brought to the hospital as a vein coming from head to nose was ruptured, which caused heavy flow of blood with swollen throat, vomiting and other heatstroke symptoms,” said head of ENT Department, Dr Aziz Khan. He said these heat waves’ symptoms were mostly witnessed due to the rise of temperature owing to climate change and global warming posing serious threats to humans, animals, birds and aquatic species. “The patient was lucky enough to have been brought to the hospital in time as he his low immunity level due to age factor”, he added. Dr Aziz said, “heat waves are more dangerous for old citizens and children due to their low immunity and their direct exposure to scorching sun may prove fatal.”
Dr. Zaheeruddin Babar, Director and Chief Spokesman Met Office, Islamabad said the plain areas of Sindh and Punjab were severely hit by heat-waves this month and its spill-over to mountainous areas up to lower Swat, Chitral, Chillas, Hunza and Gilgit were witnessed. Due to an increase in global warming, he said, rain patterns had undergone changes over the recent years for countries like Pakistan due deforestation and increase in hazardous emissions.
Pakistan is home to over 7,253 known glaciers, including around 543 in Chitral Valley most anywhere in the world except polar regions, feeds our rivers and contributing 75precent stored water supply vital for the country’s agro-based economy. The chief weather forecast guru said melting of glaciers and ice- packs in lower elevations in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Hindukash region especially in Chitral would increase if the reasons leading to global warming and climate change were not addressed.
Terming global warming an international issue, Dr Zaheer said Pakistan was among 10 countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change and feared that the earth in south asian countries would become inhabitable after a few decades if burning of fossil fuels like coal, vehicles’ emissions and deforestation continued with an existing rate.” Dr Zaheer said an increase of carbon dioxide in air due to greenhouse gas emissions, brick kilns and smoke emitting vehicles were largely contributing to rise of temperature and caused heatstroke besides air pollution.
Ikhtiar Wali Khan, PML-N Spokesperson and Member Provincial Assembly told APP that vanishing of endangered Shisham, Siris and Peepal canopy trees due to urbanization have resulted in a substantial increase in temperature in Peshawar region. Following ruthless chopping of these indigenous trees, he said Peshawar was today engulfed by polluted air and nearly five million of its people were exposed to heat waves in its wake. History revealed that Peshawar was lush green surrounded by a thick forest as mentioned by first Mughal Emperor Zaheeruddin Babar in his book “Tuzke Babri,” but unfortunately one found no traces of the green gold today.
Ikhtiar Wali said today one can find withered Shisham while going through Swat Canal linking Katlang-Swabi , Michi Canal in Dargai-Malakand, Abezai branch in Charsadda and outskirts of Peshawar.
Today migratory birds like Houbara and Cranes can hardly be seen in Peshawar’s outskirts for which once it was famous and aquatic species like Masher and Trout in River Swat and Kabul were decreased due to rapid increase in water pollution. “The green belts developed by the previous PTI Government with a cost of millions rupees taxpayers money were bulldozed for the ill-planned BRT corridor and today around five million Peshawarties were exposed to heatstroke and toxic air, he added. The smoke and dust in air was measured between five to 10 feet higher in different places of Peshawar where PM2.5 is almost four times higher than NEQS limits. The canopy trees with 10 feet or more height have the ability to absorb high levels of carbon dioxide and pollutant gases and reduce temperatures.
Gulzar Rehman, Conservator Forests said that a first manmade forest on about 32,000 hectares with over 3.2 million plants at Ghari Chandan and Azakhel, some 10 kilometers south of Peshawar, have been raised under BTAP to control air pollution and temperature here. Muhammad Asim, Spokesman, Lady Reading Hospital said that special beds were reserved at emergency department for heatstroke patients and a separate block for them was ready for inauguration. Director General Rescue 122, Dr Khateer Ahmed said that control rooms prior to heat waves were established and all ambulances were equipped with coolers, ice bags, water bottles and medicines for facilitation of heat stroke victims.