ISRAR AHMED & Danish Hussain RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD The first winter rain that started on night between Sunday and Monday not only turned the weather chilly but also compelled the citizens to wear warm clothes. Before the rain, a dusty storm in some parts of the city created problems for the people particularly for those plying their vehicles on roads. During a visit by this scribe on Monday to the markets of Adaila Road, Lal Kurti, Dheri Hassan Abad, Tahli Mohri, Dhoke Seydan Road Saddar, Raja Bazaar, Tench Bhatta, Misrial Road, Sadiqabad and Commercial Market people in vast number were seen purchasing winter clothing, boots, coats, jackets, gloves, hats, socks, mufflers, shawls and sweaters. Nevertheless, the shopkeepers and vendors while taking advantage of rising demand of winter clothes have increased their prices. Those belonging to middle class families preferred to buy the second hand woolies for their children and other family members from vendors, who had set up their stalls along with road sides or at hand pushed carts, on low prices. As the winter season has begun, the demand and sale of dry fruits has significantly increased in the city. However, with the increasing demand, the prices have also gone up beyond the reach of common man. Apart from regular shopkeepers, dry fruit vendors have raised prices of dry fruits out of proportion. Zaida Bibi, who was visiting Raja Bazaar along with her three children in search of some cheap rate clothes, told this scribe that the shopkeepers have boosted the prices of sweaters, boots and coats and she could not purchase for her children. It seems I have to return home with empty hands as I have not enough money to buy warm clothes on high rates While Asad who runs a garment shop at Tench Bhatta was of view that his business was going in loss, as customers did not visit bazaars due to price hike. The second factor which had ruined the business, was deteriorating law and order situation of the country, he added. He said that he earned hardly Rs 1500 in day, which was not enough to meet his needs. The persistent dry spell had caused chest and throat diseases besides increasing pollution. However, the rains washed away dust and made the weather cool in the city. Meanwhile, the federal capital also received the first shower of the winter season late Sunday night, breaking the long dry spell and forcing people to wear woolies as the Met Department announced that winter had arrived in the federal capital. Light rain followed by dust storm significantly decreased the day and night temperatures of the twin cities. According to a Meteorological Department official, Islamabad and Rawalpindi received 15mm and 13mm rain respectively. The official added that the rain had significantly reduced day and night temperatures by 6 to 7 degree Celsius, which would lead to severe weather conditions in the twin cities. For the next week, the met office predicted partly cloudy and shiny weather but no more rain. Dr Waseem Khawaja, spokesperson of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), talking to TheNation said that while this rain would bring the much needed respite from seasonal diseases caused by dry weather, like asthma, chest infection, typhoid, nasal allergy, influenza, soar throat, bronchitis and dry cough, it would cause the breakout of several other diseases in children and the elderly if proper precautionary measures are not taken to reduce the effects of the weather. Rain after a long dry spell was a precursor to several diseases. Children and the elderly usually fall ill during weather changes. Besides, hygiene has to be maintained at all costs, as 90 per cent of the risk is cut down if adequate precautions are taken, said Dr Waseem Khawaja. He advised the masses to wear warm clothes and take preventive measures to protect themselves from weather change in order to avoid seasonal diseases. The recent rain washed away dust and made the weather pleasant in the twin cities. It is also pertinent to note that rainfall was long awaited in the Potohar Region for the sowing of wheat and other crops of the season and according to farmers, further delay in rain could affect the per acre yield. However, a clear change among the Islooites was witnessed when they did not leave their houses for recreational spots after the much-awaited rain owing to the prevailing law and order situation.