LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday directed the chief minister to convene a meeting of the Environment Protection Council (EPC) at the earliest to discuss the smog situation in the provincial metropolis and adjoining areas.
“It is of utmost importance that the meeting of the Council be convened at the earliest by the chief minister, Punjab to deliberate upon the calamity of smog and to issue direction for effectively dealing with the situation on an urgent basis,” says Justice Shahid Karim in his written order issued on a petition relating to the environmental issues.
The judge said the meeting of the council shall be convened and held within the current week and a report shall be filed by the secretary to the chief minister before the next hearing on Nov 18.
Earlier, Justice Karim observed that the provincial government was responsible for making Lahore the most polluted city. He regretted that the government deliberately failed to make the city clean and green. The judge also reprimanded the Lahore commissioner and the Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) director general for not doing on-site inspection.
The petitioner’s counsel, Sheraz Zaka, presented a government notification of 2020 whereby smog had been declared a calamity under section 3 of the Punjab National Calamities (Prevention & Relief) Act 1958.
The PDMA chief, present in court, had not been able to present any tangible steps which were taken pursuant to the notification.
The judge observed it was clear that there were no follow-up steps that had been put in place by the PDMA for dealing with the calamity and it was insufficient for smog to be declared as such unless substantial measures were taken in this regard.
The judge directed the PDMA to come up with an extensive plan to deal with the menace of smog and a meeting shall be held under the chairmanship of a judicial commission on water and environment.
Euro-5 petrol: Punjab Minister for Finance Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakhat on Tuesday at a meeting of the cabinet committee on smog directed the sale of Euro-5 petrol at filling station of Lahore for next month and stoppage of Euro-2 supply.
He said the district administration of the city should ensure water spray on all roads of the city on a daily basis to control dust resulting in increasing smog and anti-smog measures and laws should be implemented across the board.
Mr Bakhat said vehicles creating pollution should be removed from roads and factories and brick kilns using old methods be banned immediately.
“Legal action should be taken against the people involved in resisting action over violation and fine should be imposed on vehicles causing pollution,” he said. He directed the traffic police to check smoke emitting vehicles and prepare their data too.
He requested the citizens to use buses and vans for pick and drop of their children from educational institutions and electric vehicles culture should be adopted and its purchase should be facilitated.
He directed the commissioners of the provinces to ensure action against the people involved in setting agriculture waste on fire and action should be taken against the factories causing plastic pollution.Petrol Pumps Association office bearer Jahanzaib Malik told Dawn that the administration was pushing the pump owners to sell the Euro-5 instead of Euro-2 due to smog. He said the government would have to ensure the availability while directing the oil companies to provide Euro-5 instead of Euro-2 oil.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2021