The wheat crop infested by fungal disease in Bumburate valley. — Dawn
The wheat crop infested by fungal disease in Bumburate valley. — Dawn

CHITRAL: The wheat crop in lower parts of Chitral has been hit by fungal disease wherein the leaves turn orange-yellowish in the first stage and then withered away, while the infected area looks like it is covered by a yellow blanket.

Agriculture department’s deputy director Rafique Ahmed told this scribe that wheat producing villages of Broze, Ayun, Jinjirate, Drosh, Sheshi Koh valley, Chumurkone, Jughoor, Denin, Koghuzi and Barenis had been affected by fungus, also known as yellow rust that usually occurs after excessive rains.

Coronavirus fear: Residents here have expressed apprehension that people coming from other districts with a large number of coronavirus cases could spread the virus and increase infection rate in Chitral district during Eid days.

Aftab Ali, a former councillor from Karimabad valley, said free mobility of passengers from other parts of the country in villages here without being quarantined could unleash the virus.

He said that so far the total number of Covid-19 cases was 41 of which there was no case of local transmission.

“One can imagine the fact that the 41 persons testing positive for the virus could have infected more people in the family and neighbourhoods as social bonds here are much stronger than other parts of the country,” he said.

Mr Ali said in Chitral villages a person returning to his area after a period of one year was usually visited by his relatives and neighbours in large number.

A doctor requesting anonymity said that free mobility of returnees from other districts and Gilgit-Baltistan was providing an environment conducive to local transmission of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the arrival of beggars from Punjab and other parts of the country put a big question mark on implementation of standard operation procedures (SOPs) for passengers coming from other areas to Chitral after the ban was lifted on public transport.

As per SOPs, no non-local passenger, including tourists, is allowed to enter the district from Lowari. However, the arrival of beggars on the first day of lifting ban on public transport has surprised the people.

The beggars were let free to wander in the city on their arrival without undergoing any restriction like home quarantine for 14 days.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2020

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