• Rotation programme for Rohri Canal

    The executive engineer of Dad irrigation division has announced a rotation programme for Rohri Canal in view of short supply of water. According to the programme issued on Saturday, Rein distributary (distry) and its system, Chanesar minor, Sakrand distry, Mangio minor, Forest minor, Rahib Shah distry, Bilawal Zardari minor, Khadar distry and its system, Lakhmir minor, Jam Dahiri minor, Attur minor, Khair Shah minor, Shahbaz minor, Batho minor and Nakur minor will remain open from Feb 22 to March 1. Thul branch and its system, Talhi minor, Kahkat minor, Malwah distry, Mirrukn minor, Kazi Ahmed minor, Jado minor, Manharo minor, San minor, Jamal Shah distry, Pubjo distry, Sujawal distry, Jam Mohammad minor and Waryam minor will remain open from March 1 to 8. PPP RALLY: A large number of activists and supporter of Pakistan People's Party held a rally to celebrate the victory of their party in general election on Saturday. The rally, carrying party flags and portraits of late Benazir Bhutto and raising "Jeay Bhutto' slogans started from Daur town and terminated at Dargah Jam Saheb in Jam Saheb town. The rally participants laid a floral wreath on Dargah Jam Saheb and offered prayers for the prosperity of the country. GROWERS: Sugarcane growers staged a demonstration and observed token hunger strike outside local press club against sugar mills for initiating broker system, here on Saturday.

  • Bird flu virus to die off by summer'

    Since heat destroys the H5N1 virus that causes bird flu, threat to birds and humans is expected to diminish with a rise in mercury level as the summer comes closer. These views were expressed by Dr Faisal Mehmood, Assistant Professor at Infectious Diseases Department of Aga Khan University Hospital, in his presentation at the PMA House on Saturday. He said that avian virus did not affect humans until 1997 when an outbreak of bird flu infected 18 people and caused six deaths in Hong Kong. Since then, human cases of bird flu had been reported in different parts of the world, including Asia and Europe, he added. "Most cases were traced to be in contact with infected poultry or bird-contaminated surfaces,' he said, adding that avian influenza virus often originated in areas where people live in close proximity to chickens. Dr Mehmood observed that an outbreak of bird flu was not as big a risk for general public as for the poultry workers. It could be controlled by culling the infected birds. However, he warned that available research did hint that the virus could mutate at some point in the future and trigger a lethal human flu pandemic. He elaborated that H5N1 mutated quickly and was able to incorporate large blocks of genetic code from viruses that infected other species, a process called re-assortment. For that reason, he said, H5N1 had particular potential to combine with a human flu virus, creating a new viral strain that was feared to spread rapidly from person to person. Under all conditions the most practical precaution effective at preventing a repeat of the dreadful bird flu history of the past could be hand hygiene, he stressed. "Over 90 per cent of viruses like bird flu enter our bodies through contact between the mucous membranes of eyes, nose and finger nails,' he said. The speaker mentioned that the exact incubation period of bird flu in humans was not clear though illness appeared to develop within one to five days of exposure to the virus. People fell sick after direct contact with infected birds or bird-contaminated surfaces and not from contact with other animals, he added. He regretted that a very few people were aware of the possible risk factors though the reported human cases of avian influenza included people from all ages. When asked about its treatment, he said no effective vaccine could be developed till bird flu virus mutated and the patients were prescribed antiviral drugs and antibiotics. He stressed that improved public amenities like running water and improved hygiene could be the first and most practical line of defence against killer viruses like the bird flu. Earlier, PMA Karachi General-Secretary Dr Samreena Hashmi introduced the speaker and highlighted the objectives of the session.

  • CDGK to use solar energy

    In a bid to explore alternative sources of energy under the public-private initiative, the city government has decided to use solar energy for spot lights installed in parks and on the streets etc. The decision has been taken in view of a looming energy crisis in the country. In this regard, the CDGK's Enterprise and Investment Promotion Department has invited expressions of interest (EoIs) from prominent local and foreign firms having experience in the field of solar energy by March 5. The offers must be in accordance with the required health and safety international standards. Before entering into an agreement, such projects completed by the bidding firms at home or abroad will also be inspected to ascertain their capability and expertise. Under the agreement, the successful bidder will be bound to provide and successfully operate streetlights, lamp poles, spot lights, wall-mounted lights, landscape lights etc and hand over the same to the city government within the stipulated period.

  • Bird flu outbreak confirmed at third Karachi farm

    As test results confirmed the presence of the dreaded Avian Influenza (AI) virus in a Malir farm on Saturday evening

  • Call to revamp Lyari sewerage system

    Sewage gushing out of chocked gutters has inundated several major streets in Lyari, causing inconvenience to the residents and creating a hindrance in the smooth flow of vehicular traffic. The worst-affected areas of the locality include D. D. Chaudhry Road, Police Quarters, Baghdadi police station on Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai Road and its adjacent streets. According to area people, these pools of filthy water on these streets are turning into fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects increasing the possibility of an outbreak of diseases. Apart from this, the roads of the locality are also being extensively damaged adding to the problems of the already perturbed Lyariites. In a signed letter addressed to the Lyari Town nazim, copies of which had also been sent to the Sindh governor, chief minister, chief secretary and the city nazim, over 40 residents of the affected areas had deplored that the overflowing sewage from chocked lines of the locality had become a recurring menace and their repeated complaints lodged with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) officials concerned in this regard had, so far, remained unheeded. They said that since the sewerage system had been laid some 50 years ago, the infrastructure of that period could not cope with the present-day requirements of the locality, which had witnessed a cent per cent increase in its population. They urged the relevant authorities to revamp the entire sewerage system of the locality on modern lines.The area people said that the main cause of this recurring menace of overflowing sewage was old undersized lines. They, however, deplored that the issue had been brought to the notice of the relevant authorities of the KWSB but to no avail. The KWSB people had developed a habit of expressing their inability to replace the undersized lines citing severe financial constraints, they said. Khudadad Colony Residents of Khudadad Colony, situated off Shahrah-i-Quaideen, complained that filthy water overflowing from some chocked sewers had become a recurring issue in their locality. They deplored that sewage gushing out of some chocked sewers often remained accumulated on a number of streets for days together but engineers of the KWSB neither took prompt measures to rectify the fault responsible for the chocked lines nor drained the filthy water from the roads.

  • Mild quake hits Islamabad, Peshawar

    A mild earthquake of 4.8 magnitude hit Islamabad and Northern Areas on Wednesday, US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The quake was felt in Islamabad, Peshawar, Swat, Chitral, Dir, Abbotabad and Northern Areas, private news channel reported. No loss of life or property has been reported so far from any part of the country.

  • 5,000 chickens culled in Mansehra

    At least 5,000 chickens have been culled at a poultry farm in the Malipur area after a report of the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, confirmed presence of H5N1 virus.The district livestock officer of Mansehra Dr Ali Akber Khan told Dawn that after the confirmation of the H5N1 virus by the NIH laboratory, over 5,000 chickens were culled in the poultry farm. He said that the infected poultry farm had been sealed, while vaccine was being administered in other areas to check the spread of the bird flu virus. Responding to a question, Dr Akber said that fortunately no worker of the said poultry farm had been infected by the virus. Meanwhile, sources in the provincial health department told this correspondent that a team of the World Health Organisation, which was already monitoring the situation in Hazara region, had reached Mansehra to review the situation.

  • Riverine forests fast disappearing

    The Centre for Environment and Development (CEAD) said on Sunday that riverine forests were disappearing rapidly because of reduced flow of water, unchecked practice of illegally cutting down trees and encroachment upon forest lands. The CEAD office-bearers said in a statement that the entire world was advocating increase in forest cover to face the growing threat of climatic change but unfortunately in Pakistan, forests did not receive much attention. They said that forests were significant for the survival of humanity. In Sindh, forests covered only 2.5 per cent of the total land area and were entirely dependent on monsoon floods in riverine tract and canal water in mainland area, they said. According to recent reports, trees were disappearing due to shortage of irrigation water, arid climatic condition and illegal clearing of forest land, they said. The impact of deforestation included soil depletion, loss of soil fertility, reduction in recharge of aquifer, enhanced sedimentation, lowering of water table, loss of biodiversity and loss of ecosystem, they said. They said that the forests in the areas below Kotri Barrage were the worst affected where many had been cleared of any vegetation and turned virtually unproductive. They said that some time ago, many forests in Kachho area were cut down on the pretext of security fears while the root cause of law and order problem remained unaddressed even this day. They urged people of the area as well as civil society organisations to help protect forests and hoped that the Sindh Forest Department would ensure that all the encroachments were removed, existing forest area was protected and efforts were made to bring further area under forests. Trees helped control soil erosion, check run-off, reduce desiccation of crops, add favourable nutrients to soil, improve physical and chemical properties of soil and enhance rate of biological processes, the CEAD officials said.

  • Migratory birds not behind avian influenza: WWF

    Rejecting official claims that migratory birds are responsible for the spread of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza (AI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has warned of serious repercussions against wild bird populations and their habitats if people at the helm of affairs continued to issue statements that have no scientific grounds. In a statement, the WWF said: "Though there is some evidence to back the case that migratory wild birds can spread the H5N1 virus, they are not the main source of the virus, nor are they solely responsible for the spread of H5N1. No fully documented healthy migratory wild birds have tested positive for H5N1. In fact, it seems that with the degradation and destruction of lakes and wetlands, migratory birds are forced to feed and live in areas populated by domestic poultry (and humans), putting the wild birds at risk of infection.' Highlighting some scientific facts, the WWF said none of the samples collected by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) from between 300,000 to 350,000 wild birds across the world were found positive for H5N1. Likewise, a sampling of 5,000 water-birds after an outbreak in Nigeria during 2006 found no traces of the virus. After a comprehensive critical review of recent scientific literature, it has been concluded that the poultry trade

  • Experts say bird flu still a threat

    Speakers at a seminar on Monday called for educating the masses and an increased social mobilisation about the risk perceptions linked to avian influenza (AI). They observed that the disease had already made its way into the country posing a threat to poultry, farm workers, consumers of poultry products and other people. Well-coordinated initiatives are needed to be taken by the government agencies concerned, they stressed while calling for a careful dissemination of preventive health education vis-

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