Cash-strapped Pakistan planning Rs 350 million cloud seeding to curb air severe pollution in Lahore

Cash-strapped Pakistan planning Rs 350 million cloud seeding to curb air severe pollution in Lahore

Lahore, Nov 25 (PTI) Pakistan’s Punjab province is planning to carry out an artificial rain experiment with China's help in Lahore, one of the cities to face the worst air pollution across the globe, a project estimated to cost Rs 350 million in the cash-strapped country, according to media reports here.

“On Friday, Lahore once again was ranked first in terms of air pollution in the world,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported, quoting the Meteorological Department sources that said the average Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 356 in the provincial capital.

Each winter, Lahore in Pakistan and Delhi in India have continued to be the worst polluted cities across the world in recent years. Incidentally, the government of Delhi has also announced the possibility of using artificial rains to bring down air pollutants.

Meteorology plays an important role in determining the level of air pollution in north Pakistan, just as it is a major factor in the neighbouring region of northwest India. After the rainy season, when the crop is harvested, and farmers from both sides tend to burn the stubble adding to the existing causes of pollution.

Quoting sources in the Finance Ministry, The News International on Friday said, “As part of its efforts to combat the severe smog levels in Lahore, the Punjab government is planning to carry out artificial rain in the provincial capital, a project which is estimated to cost Rs 350 million.” Earlier this week, Chief Meteorologist Chaudhry Aslam said that artificial rain is expected in Lahore next month and preparations are underway for it as the government ups its efforts to curb smog.

A report in The Express Tribune newspaper said the Punjab government had sought advice from experts to finalise a comprehensive plan for artificial rain to counter smog.

Punjab Interim Information Minister Amir Mir was quoted as saying by the newspaper that “matters have been settled with the Chinese experts” as cloud seeding is the most effective way for artificial rain.

The news reports also mentioned that the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has successfully tested artificial rain in the past.

Meanwhile, several people have raised questions about spending Rs 350 million for the experiment in the already struggling times. On November 15, the International Monetary Fund's delegation wrapped two-week-long talks with Pakistani officials and announced that a staff-level agreement has been reached to enable it to release USD 700 million in the second tranche of an already agreed USD 3 billion loan.

In four months, the Pakistan government has already borrowed USD 6 billion while it expects rollovers of USD 12.5 billion. PTI NPK NPK NPK

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