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EditorialA country riddled with pollution

A country riddled with pollution

If one compares life span of Pakistanis with those living in developed states, a clear difference can easily be found. Comparatively, an average Pakistani celebrates less birthdays owing to various reasons and pollution is one of the key factors that contributes to scaling up the mortality rate in Pakistan. According to the World Bank (WB) data, life expectancy rate in Pakistan is 67 years. Reportedly, the menace of air pollution has shortened average Pakistanis’ life expectancy by 3.8 years as compared to the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), making the situation more vulnerable in other areas where citizens’ life has been shortened by 6.8 years, according to the recent annual report by Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, our cities are passing through dangerous levels of air pollution and they are counted among the most polluted places in the world in terms of their air quality. The increasing level of pollution and poor air quality owe their existence to a number of factors like increasing urbanisation, industrial growth, commercialization and deforestation. Due to urban growth, cities are being converted into gas chambers while the population is facing the mounting pollution problem. It is a sharp warning to the government that growth and development at the cost of environment can bring devastating consequences for human life. Air pollution is also being caused by traffic, industries and burning of crop and solid waste, which are major contributors to smog. The prevailing pollution level is causing various respiratory diseases among citizens. Serious health concerns for the inhabitants due to toxic pollution include premature deaths, heart disease and respiratory problems among others.

One of the most pervasive forms of pollution in the country is the growing number of cars on the roads, most without catalytic converters and increasing urbanization in the form of housing societies everywhere. Due to urban growth phenomenon, the cities are being converted into a smog chamber. The government can reduce the level of pollution by planting more and more trees in various parts of the city while the Parliament needs to pass a clean air act covering all issues related to the environmental degradation and its improvement. In order to check the growing level of pollution, the government alone cannot tackle environmental degradation, yet efforts need to be done at individual level for ending this misery. At the same time, the actual source of pollution needs long term measures on part of the authorities concerned. It is the responsibility of the incumbent government to avert the environment related crisis and take necessary measures to provide conducive environment to citizens. It should be the priority of the government to rely more on non-polluting renewable energy to meet its deficit. The government needs to realise that it has to incrementally cut its dependence on fossil fuels and utilise new green technology to mitigate the bad effects of using coal for producing energy. Besides, a policy needs to be introduced to check the mushroom growth of public vehicles and take necessary measures to check pollution before it gets out of control. Hopefully Pakistan will launch environmental initiatives and rid its citizens of the ills of pollution.

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