LAHORE - Covered by dense fog, plains of the country including Lahore remained in the grip of cold wave yesterday, disrupting flight operation, hampering road and rail traffic besides causing large scale gas loadshedding.

Experts have forecast the prevailing conditions to persist during the next 2-3 days.

In Lahore, the mercury dropped to 03 degree Celsius, making Sunday the coldest day of current winter. Maximum temperature was recorded 11C. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 86 per cent.

Dense fog forced closure of portions of Motorway, causing difficulties for the motorists who were left with no other option except to use alternative routes including National Highway. Less visibility disturbed vehicular movement on almost entire highway.

Some four domestic flights of Pakistan International Airline (PIA) and Air Blue were late from Lahore to Karachi, while nine express trains were also behind schedule of their arrival at Lahore Railways Station. However the national carrier has not suspended any domestic and international flights, according to its spokesman.

“Keeping in view the weather forecast for the next three days, especially the likelihood of dense fog at Islamabad, Peshawar and most airports in Punjab, PIA has rescheduled some of its flights,” the spokesman told The Nation.

“It is strongly recommended that passengers recheck flight timings from PIA to avoid any inconvenience,” he added.

The Railways inquiry said the trains were not suspended but little late due to fog.

The road transports effected widely and late for hours due to persisting cold wave. Dozens of buses at city terminals arrived hours late from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, DG Khan, Jhang and Peshawar.

Motorists had to face difficulty on highways and motorways due to dense fog in certain sections with low visibility.

Lack of sunshine, snowfall over the hills and winds from the north caused considerable decrease in the mercury, increasing chill in the weather during the day and at night.

Skardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 12C below the freezing point. Minimum temperature in Astore and Hunza was recorded -09C, Gupis -08C, Gilgit -06C, Kalam -05C, Quetta, Dir, Rawalakot and Parachinar- 04C, Malamjabba, Kalam, Kalat, Bannu, Zhob and Muree -02C, Dalbandin, Bunji and Noorpurthal -01C.

Biting cold forced the people to stay indoors wrapped in woolies and blankets to keep their bodies warm. Excessive usage of heaters in the offices and at home led to low gas pressure in various parts of Lahore.

In certain areas, women faced huge difficulties in cooking meals for their families.

According to the experts, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country. Local meteorological department has forecast mainly cold and dry weather for most parts of the country including Lahore during the next 2-3 days.

Dense foggy conditions are expected over plains of Punjab and upper Sindh at night and in the morning during the period.

‘Natural remedy’ for low gas pressure: Low pressure of natural gas is continuously hitting hard the domestic limits of the capital city of Punjab, while the authorities are solely hoping for rise in temperature.

Despite cut in gas supply to industry and CNG sector of Punjab, the SNGPL is unable to meet the demand of households and commercial sector.

Thousands of housewives in half of the city areas and owners of small hotels and restaurants are facing severe difficulty in cooking food.

The areas where the complaints of low pressure are much high included Mozang, Chuburgi, Samanabad, Gulshan Ravi, Thoker Niaz Beg, Ali Town, Judicial Colony, Green Town, Township, Baghwanpura, Ghari Shaho and Gazri Road localities.

The Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) spokesperson said all the available gas in SNGPL’s network completely dedicated to commercial and domestic sectors. “Yes there is a problem as the cold wave continued for more than a week. We are trying our best to provide maximum relief to consumers,” said Awais Bajwa, the spokesperson for the SNGPL.

Around 1300 million cubic feet gas was being consumed in Punjab and KPK, he said, adding that the pressure complaints would end as the temperature went some high.

The spokesman further said the consumers could call the complaint office working 24 hours in case of any problem in their supply.

Besides the shortage of gas in SNGPL’s network, the damages to gas pipelines due to construction work at Orange Line Metro Train project also affected supply to various localities.