Imran fears second Covid-19 wave in coming months

Published October 20, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the encouragement award ceremony of ‘Clean Green Index of 19 Competing Cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’. — PID
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the encouragement award ceremony of ‘Clean Green Index of 19 Competing Cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’. — PID

• Govt plans to use solid waste for power generation
• 350 Sahulat bazaars being set up in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday feared a second wave of Covid-19 in the coming months in cities where pollution levels are high.

“I fear there might be another spike of coronavirus in cities where the rate of pollution increases in October and November,” the prime minister said while addressing the encouragement award ceremony of ‘Clean Green Index of 19 Competing Cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’.

In a separate meeting, the prime minister was apprised of the Punjab government’s plan to provide subsidised consumer items to people at 350 Sahulat bazaars to be established in the province.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Prime Minister Khan said though measures taken by the government during the pandemic were acknowledged internationally, including by the World Health Organisation, there was still a need to observe precautions to combat an expected second wave of the virus.

“I fear that in these two months — October and November [...] cities like Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Gujranwala where there is more pollution [...] there might be a second spike in coronavirus cases. The cases are rising gradually and we hope that they don’t increase quickly; we are monitoring it,” he told participants of the event.

He said that during winter, “pollution becomes stagnant in the atmosphere”, leading to the spread of diseases.

The country’s environment, he said, had been damaged because of deforestation, spilling of sewage into rivers and sea and non-disposal of solid waste, adding that, “people and the government will have to make a joint effort to save the future of our children and the coming generations”.

Interestingly, the prime minister, who usually does not miss an occasion to criticise the opposition, did not respond to the speeches made by the opposition leaders during the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s second public gathering in Karachi.

The prime minister said he had visited every place in the country, more than any other Pakistani ruler, and observed mass scale cutting of trees and pollution in rivers.

“About 70 per cent of the trees had been chopped down in Lahore during the last 20 years while Karachi, the city of lights, had turned into a heap of waste,” he added.

About solid waste, Prime Minister Khan said in many countries it was being used for producing electricity.

“Now the government is working on a plan to utilise solid waste for power generation,” he added.

He said sewage and effluent from factories were flowing into the sea, damaging aquatic life and forcing fishermen to go into deep water to catch fish.

He lauded the initiative to acknowledge efforts of deputy commissioners in providing better civic amenities to people under the Clean Green Pakistan Movement.

“The deputy commissioners, who take initiatives to ensure green and clean Pakistan, must be appreciated and given raise in salaries as well as bonuses. Salaries should be increased on the basis of performance and those who failed to perform should be punished,” he added.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the prime minister launched the Clean Green Pakistan Movement on Nov 25, 2019. The main focus of the initiative is to inculcate a spirit of cleanliness competition in cities and facilitate behavioral change, build positive attitudes and ensure institutional strengthening for better water, sanitation and hygiene services and facilities.

Under the movement, 35 sub-indicators for ranking the cities are used against five core pillars — access to water, sanitation, hygiene, solid waste management and plantation.

Under the first Clean Green Cities Index Awards of Cities and Champions, Attock secured first position in Punjab for a lead in plantation, Bahawalpur stood second in solid waste, Lahore bagged the third position in water and hygiene, Gujrat came in fourth while Rawalpindi achieved the fifth position.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Bannu was declared first (overall) while Kohat and Abbottabad stood second and third, respectively.

The innovation award for cities was given to Peshawar for its performance in access to safe drinking water, Sahiwal for community participation and Gujranwala for beautification and parks.

The award of the best performing clean green champions went to Dr Akram Shahzad (Khanewal), Ashfaq Nazar (Sialkot), Bilquis Rehana (Faisalabad), Haseena Hussain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Peshawar) and Aqil Zaman (Swabi).

Sahulat bazaars

In a separate meeting, Prime Minister Khan was apprised of the initiative taken by the Punjab government of setting up 350 Sahulat bazaars in the province, including 31 in Lahore.

Out of the 350 bazaars, 196 will be established in a month.

The meeting was informed that a 20kg bag of wheat flour will be available for Rs845 while a 10kg bag for Rs420 in these bazaars. Sugar, which is costing over Rs100 per kg, can be purchased for Rs85 per kg at these outlets.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2020

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