KARACHI - Noted town planner and architect Arif Hassan has underlined the need to protect agriculture fields and fruit farms around Karachi particularly in rural areas of Malir and Gadap to create a green shield against heatwave as well as making the rural areas economically viable.

Speaking at a consultation “Exploring Strategies to Respond to Heat Wave in Karachi”, organised by a group of concerned citizens at the office of Urban Resource Centre here on Thursday, Arif Hasan said that earlier Malir and Gadap areas in Karachi rural were green because of agriculture and fruit farms. Due to unplanned development in the city, he said the rural area of Karachi have become barren now. There is obstruction on natural flow of the rainy rivers so wells are not charging and agriculture is affected. Water problem is very severe in Malir area, he added.

“By making rural Karachi economically viable we can make Karachi city cooler,” he said adding that earlier, guavas of Malir were exported. Eggs and chickens from Malir were exported but those products have declined now.

Malir area has become so vulnerable that people associated with agriculture profession do not take interest in their lands, thus production has affected.

He said heat wave in Karach is not an unusual phenomenon as in the past city’s temperature went as high as 47 to 48 degree centigrade. In fact Karachi’s greenery was destroyed by a devastating cyclone hit the city in 1906, he added.

Arif Hassan said about 60 percent of Karachi’s population live in slums and old areas and without their involvement in development, city’s problems would not be solved.

He suggested making the residential buildings insulated and use of material which absorb less heat. He said buildings are designed in a way that there is no cross-ventilation of the air, which increases the temperature inside the homes.

Speaking on the occasion, D. Noman Ahmed, Dean Faculty of Architecture and Management Sciences said that many factors are involved in causing severe hot weather in Karachi including development and environmental pollution.  Our luxurious life style has not only increased cost of living, but has posed threats to the environment.

“We use airconditioners which cool the homes inside, but cause increase in temperature outside,” he said adding that during 2016-17 sale of air conditioners in Karachi increased by 17.5 percent, which is growing as the temperature rises.

Public spaces like parks, playgrounds and open grounds are shrinking and over all plantation has decreased in Karachi. According to a study public open spaces in other major cities of the world are on average nine percent, but in Karachi such spaces are half, that is 4.5 percent.

He said high-rise buildings long the Karachi coast have obstructed the wind corridor and people in Clifton areas have started complaining of suspension of sea breezes.

He said according to studies the concrete structures and roads cause increase in temperature in the cities. A Motorway Police study has indicated that road surface temperature is seven to eight degree higher than the surrounding tempperature.

Moreover, he said the concrete buildings absorb heat during the day time and then they start emitting that heat afterwards that is why our buildings in the cities are hotter even in nights.

A researcher from Aga Khan University Hospital Rubaba said after 2015 heat weave a study of medical facilities in city’s low-income localities was made. She said in the public hospital like Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and a government hospital in Korangi, it was observed that doctors are not motivated to treat heatstroke patients.

Shahzad Qureshi, Zahid Farooq, Zeenia Shaukat, Yasir Hussain and other spoke on the occasion.