|Satellite Image of Fires in South Asia. Source: NASA|
What prompted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to carry out a major purge of top princes in Saudi Arabia? And why did Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri announce his resignation from the Saudi soil? What are its domestic and international implications? Will it lead to a serious internal instability? Will the young Crown Prince intensify the regional proxy war against Iran?
|Saudi Royal Purge. Source: Al Jazeera|
What is going on with the on-again off-again alliance between MQM and PSP in Karachi? Is this a shot-gun marriage arranged by the GHQ in Rawalpindi? Is there an anti-PPP alliance with MQM, PSP and Functional League being cobbled together to oust Zardari and his cronies from power in Sindh? Is this an attempt to end crime, corruption and violence in Karachi?
Why did Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa visit Iran to meet its top leadership? Is there an Iran-Pakistan alliance in the offing? How will it affect the situation in the region vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
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Talk4Pak Youtube Channel
In #Pakistan, a 'Happy' solution to curb crop burning takes off. The #technology could reduce air #pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 78%. #Lahore #Punjab via @csmonitor https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2020/1208/In-Pakistan-a-Happy-solution-to-curb-crop-burning-takes-off?cmpid=shared-twitter
A new effort by the Punjab government to tackle air pollution caused by rice stubble burning is taking off as machines – called Happy Seeders – are given to farmers at a subsidized cost. The technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 78%.
Air pollution is a long-standing problem in Pakistan, but every October and November contaminates in the air in Punjab province shoot up as farmers burn rice stalks left behind after harvesting to clear their fields to plant wheat.
During these cooler months, the provincial capital Lahore, which is surrounded by rice-growing districts, is covered with thick smog.
“It is a health emergency – the air quality monitors in Lahore routinely show hazardous levels in November,” said Farah Rashid, a climate and energy program coordinator for green group WWF-Pakistan.
Now the Punjab government hopes to tackle the problem by providing 500 rice farmers around Lahore with a set of machines that together eliminate the need to burn crop stubble.
The machines include a shredder that breaks down rice stubble and mulches it into the ground and a seed drill – called the Happy Seeder – that follows to sow wheat through the mulch.
“It’s a useful technology,” said farmer Aaamer Hayat Bhandara, who has used both machines at a friend’s large farm, and has pushed the government to subsidize them.
“These machines used together could really make life much easier for us farmers,” said Mr. Bhandara, from Pakpattan in Punjab province.
Malik Amin Aslam, climate change advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan, called air pollution a “silent killer” and said Lahore’s smog had increased in intensity and frequency over the last five years.
He explained that rice farmers traditionally use combine harvesters to cut their rice in October, leaving behind about four inches of stubble.
With less than two weeks before they have to ready their fields to sow wheat, burning is the fastest way to clear the land, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In Pakistan, rice is grown on an area of about 2 million hectares, mainly in the Punjab and Sindh provinces. Many of the fields are cleared by burning every year.
In October and November, Lahore’s Air Quality Index level can jump to over 300, a number that the United States Environmental Protection Agency says corresponds to a “health warning of emergency conditions.”
Farmers say the new farm equipment can help combat smog, but note that crop burning produces only a small share of the province’s pollution.
“The stubble is burned only for a few weeks in the winter. It is a fact that the problem becomes worse during this short period,” Mr. Bhandara said.
“But farmers are not the only reason for this pollution,” he added.
A 2018 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the underlying causes of smog in Punjab noted that agriculture – mainly rice residue burning – accounts for 20% of total air pollutant emissions.
That puts it behind industry, which produces a quarter of the air pollution in the province, and transport, which contributes more than 40%.
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