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India exporting smog to Pakistan?

A Pak agency says excessive burning of coal by India's thermal power plants is causing smog, reports Reshma Patil.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 02:07 IST

Promoting cross-border infiltration is a charge India has repeatedly brought against Pakistan. Now, Pakistan has accused India of the same — but it is a rather hazy charge. Literally.

The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) has launched a three-year study to "substantiate earlier findings" that smog in Pakistani Punjab is caused by "excessive burning of coal by India's thermal power plants," the Pakistani daily Dawn said on Sunday.

There are three thermal power plants in Indian Punjab close to the Pakistani border — Bathinda, Lehra Mohabbut in Sangrur district, and Ropar.

Dawn quoted Pakistani minister Malik Amin Aslam as saying that once the findings were proven, Islamabad would discuss the matter with New Delhi.

It also quoted anonymous SUPARCO officials as saying that Pakistan had taken up the matter informally with India "on a number of occasions, but the Indian side was in a state of denial".

SUPARCO chief Arshad Siraj was unavailable for a comment.

In Delhi, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) dismissed the report as far-fetched. CPCB member-secretary B Sengupta told HT that emissions from Indian power plants were not polluting Pakistan.

"It is not correct to say this, they have no scientific evidence," Sengupta said. He denied anyone from Pakistan had been in touch with India on this. "Nobody (from Pakistan) has contacted us so far."

Indian experts said winter surface temperatures ensure polluting emissions remain localised. "The Pakistani claim is not supported by evidence," J Srinivasan of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, said.

"They would have to prove that the wind direction was from India to Pakistan. But in winter, wind moves from India to the Arabian Sea."

First Published: Jan 09, 2007 02:07 IST