Lahore second in world for poor air quality

Published November 1, 2021
A vendor carries balloons down a Lahore street amid heavy smog. — AFP/File
A vendor carries balloons down a Lahore street amid heavy smog. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The provincial capital on Sunday again ranked second among the top five cities with bad air quality in the world.

The first on the list is India’s Delhi while Kyrgyzstan’s Bishkek is on third, India’s Kolkata fourth and China’s Beijing is the fifth city, according to air pollution data released by the US Air Quality Index.

The city recorded a particulate matter (PM) rating of 188 that classifies the city under the “unhealthy” category of air quality.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency regards air quality satisfactory if the AQI is under 50.

According to environmental experts and an earlier report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the cause of smog remains years-long pollution caused mostly by the transport sector and industries, and not just crop burning.

A citizen showing his concern about the air quality of the city tweeted “Air quality in Lahore is the worst. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be healthy in this pollution. All those planning to settle in Lahore should rethink their decision and settle elsewhere. We should also consider to change Lahore as a capital city. It’s too populated”.

Lahore suffers from high levels of air pollution, with the city regularly ranking at the top of IQAir AirVisual’s live pollution rankings of the major global cities.

However, pollution only rose to the top of the public’s consciousness in early 2017, when actionable air quality data were published for the first time in Pakistan.

In the absence of publicly available government data, a network of citizen-operated sensors began to monitor fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, and report data in real-time.

The Punjab government imposed section 144 to control smog and take action against those causing air and environmental pollution.

The government has decided to take action against those causing air and environmental pollution through the burning of crop stubble, garbage, and industrial, vehicular emissions and authorities concerned were directed to enforce the section 144 imposed throughout the province as part of efforts to combat the smog.

Under section 144, the burning of crop residue and garbage have been banned across the province for one month from Oct 6.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2021

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