COLLEGE of Earth and Environmental Sciences Principal Dr Sajid Rashid Ahmad
COLLEGE of Earth and Environmental Sciences Principal Dr Sajid Rashid Ahmad

Why is Lahore among the most polluted cities?

If you take the data of the last 20 years, the number of vehicles has risen every year. This adds to CO2 emissions. The population is also multiplying; trees are being felled to make way for housing schemes; and the number of factories, industrial units and brick kilns has also gone up. Then there is crop burning, too. All these factors accumulate to make the air unhealthy in Lahore. According to a recent report by the Ministry of Climate Change, 40 to 50pc of pollution is caused by traffic; 25pc by industries, including brick kilns; and 25pc is due to crop burning.

With all eyes on the UAE, where world leaders have gathered for the COP28 summit, Dawn is speaking to experts to answer pressing, everyday questions that are on people’s minds about climate change-related issues.

What causes urban flooding in Lahore?

Urban flooding is caused by unplanned development. Natural watercourses have been blocked. There are more roads and less unpaved areas for water to seep into the Earth. Earlier, there were ‘doongi grounds’ — patches of land at a lower level than the adjacent road — in every area. The rainwater used to accumulate there and seep into the earth, recharging the underground water table. All such grounds have been levelled for construction due to the haphazard urbanisation.

Today, Dr Sajid Rashid Ahmad of the Punjab University, talks about Lahore’s pollution and urban flooding problems, as well as the simple innovations that could help address these issues.

Is it better to bury solid waste than burning it?

In our country, we have mixed garbage, including plastics. It can neither be burnt nor buried as it would contaminate the soil. The solution is landfill sites. In Dubai, the track for Formula 1 has been established on a landfill site. When Dubai was expanding decades back, the waste, including construction material, was dumped at the landfill site, and later, they converted it into a race track. A novel solution to reduce agri waste was devised at the Punjab University, where pulp was made to produce paper. We contacted paper mills and tested the paper in those factories. Similar solutions should be implemented in our cities.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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