LAHORE: After many days of alarming air quality index (AQI) and thick smog blanketing Lahore and other industrial hubs, several cities and towns received wind and thunderstorm on Sunday, providing relief to the people encountering respiratory and other health issues due to the continuous vaporous weather.
“The rain on Sunday and as predicted for Monday (today) will give a sigh of relief to people, especially those living in Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and other industrial cities of Punjab, as it will almost clear the thick layer of smog and lower the deteriorating AQI level that has reached the ‘very poor’ category,” Environment Protection Agency Director General Dr Khurram Shahzad explained while talking to Dawn on Sunday.
“But, smog may appear again any time by Dec 31 due to vehicular and industrial emission, stubble burning and no rainfall rains despite the fact that we are taking measures to reduce it,” he warned.
According to the Met office, many central and upper cities of Punjab received light to heavy showers on Sunday as a westerly wave persisted in those areas and was likely to remain till Monday morning. “Till 3pm (Sunday), various parts of Lahore received 18mm or so rain (on an average) and it may continue till Monday morning,” a Met official told Dawn.
He said the cities that received light to heavy rains on Sunday included Sargodha, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. “Although these rains will reduce smog to a minimum level, they may create thick fog and lower temperatures in the coming days,” he remarked.
On the other hand, the AQI in Lahore was recorded ‘very poor’. According to the Environment Protection Department, the smog level recorded between 8am and 11am on Sunday was 433 at Quaid-i-Azam Industrial Estate. People have been advised to wear masks, stay indoors, avoid unnecessary travel and take care of the elderly, especially those with asthma.
“It has become really difficult to breath in the open air for the last many days due to thick smog. It is causing breathing and other skin and eye diseases,” Dr Hassan told Dawn.
He advised people to restrict their mobility and stay home. However, he added, smog would soon come to a minimal level due to the rains in Lahore and other parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority claimed to have taken various steps to reduce smog and pollution across the province. “During the last 24 hours, 67 first information reports were lodged and 24 people arrested for flouting instructions regarding smog. A fine of Rs695,000 was imposed on many,” stated a press release.
The authority said enforcement teams shut down 114 industrial units, impounded 102 smoke-emitting vehicles and issued warnings to 10 bus terminals. Moreover, of the 7,530 brick kilns in Punjab, 1,268 had so far converted to zigzag technology.
“The main contribution to developing smog is vehicular remission with 43 per cent. The rest comes from brick kilns, stubble burning and industrial emission. In such a situation, we all must show a responsible behaviour by restricting our mobility and taking other steps,” Dr Shahzad advised.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2020