Crackdown on Lahore's industrial units in bid to control smog

Published October 30, 2022
In this file photo, commuters drive their vehicles on a road amid heavy smog in Lahore. — AFP
In this file photo, commuters drive their vehicles on a road amid heavy smog in Lahore. — AFP

LAHORE: In a bid to control smog in the provincial capital, the city district administration has launched a crackdown on the industrial units and other businesses causing severe environmental pollution.

The administration has also started checking the factories which had earlier been issued fitness certificates by the environment department, Dawn has learnt.

“A policy of zero-tolerance on the factories / premises causing smog has been devised. We have launched a major operation in the Punjab capital and it will continue on a regular basis,” city administration’s spokesman Imran Maqbool told Dawn on Saturday.

“Owing to various steps, including sealing of several factories / units having no scrubber machines and action against those burning stubble in the agri fields / open spaces, the Lahore’s Air Quality Index has improved,” he claimed.

According to IQAIR, the situation in the last few days was worst in terms of Lahore’s AQI. On Oct 26, the city’s AQI was 223 followed by 260 and 239 on Oct 27 and 28. As it shows environment “very unhealthy” with certain precautions related to protection of humans in particular and others (animals etc) in general, the situation started improving on Oct 29 (Saturday).

On Saturday, Lahore’s AQI was recorded as 255 (unhealthy). The forecast for next six days (from Oct 30 to Nov 4) mentions the city’s AQI as 152, 160, 160, 158, 156 and 163 on Oct 30, 31, Nov 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively.

Mr Maqbol said that during the operation launched by the city administration in collaboration with the environment department, 170 industrial units -- mostly situated in the areas of Mahmood Booti and Bheeni villages within jurisdiction of Shalimar zone (formerly the town) -- had been sealed. These included 20 sealed directly by the deputy commissioner. FIRs were also lodged against these 20 units when they were unsealed by the owners on their own.

“Most factories, for manufacturing steel, use rubber / tyres and carbon and release toxic emissions injurious to health and cause massive smog. That is why we have focused on such units. Similarly, three FIRs have also been lodged against the people involved in stubble burning. Their premises were sealed,” the official said, adding that four units were sealed on Saturday.

He said the factories which the environment department had declared fit for operation by issuing them certificates were being re-checked by a committee under a third-party validation. This committee was constituted on Oct 27 by the Lahore DC. According to a notification, the four-member committee comprises Ms Nazia Mohal (Additional Deputy Commissioner General / Convenor of the committee), Mr Noor Ahmad (Deputy Director, EPA), Dr Shazia Pervaiz (Deputy Director) and Mr Imran Safdar (Assistant Commissioner Shalimar). “It has been reported that despite active anti-smog campaign, many industrial units are still emitting smoke and adding to the smog.

In order to comply with the decisions of high court, it has been decided to carry out a third-party validation of all functional and de-sealed industrial units vis-a-via environmental standards,” reads the notification.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2022

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