LAHORE: On Tuesday, the city was listed as having the worst air quality in the entire world.
According to iqair.com, a website that tracks air quality around the world, the city’s AQI (air quality index) reading at 8:30pm was 353, the worst of the day. Since the AQI US was 493 at 9am, the rest of the day was just as bad.
Individual areas of Lahore fared even worse. CERP Office at 8pm was at 565, Syed Maratib Ali Road 480, Lahore American School 479, Chattha Park 460, Venus Housing Society 447, Block K 445, and Pakistan Engineering Services (Pvt) Ltd. 413, Dawn Bread Kot Lakhpat 401, Block A, Johar Town 397 and Canal Bank Housing Scheme 378.
In the AQI ranking of world cities, Lahore (in real-time) was followed by Delhi (277), Dhaka (230), Karachi (188) and Bishkek (176).
Due to continual exposure to smog, locals reported eye issues, allergies and a burning sensation in their eyes.
According to Prof Dr Arif Nadeem, smog can lead to cancer and lung disease. The residents should stay indoors as much as possible and should also lock their doors and windows.
He claimed that because they failed to inspect their vehicles’ smoke and methane emissions, people were to blame for the pollution and smog.
He said that in addition to official agencies failing to examine and enforce the regulations, firms had not installed anti-smog devices to reduce pollution.
He claimed that stubble burning and brick kilns were additional sources of smog and that the state had failed to regulate farmers’ and brick kiln owners’ activities.
Two days ago, Punjab Chief Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal had directed the Environment Protection Department to finalise the framework to control air pollution (smog) at the earliest.
He said amendments to the environmental policy and the framework to control air pollution (smog) should be finalised in consultation with experts and stakeholders.
He said the measures taken to control the smog have yielded encouraging results and the situation was better than that of the last year, but more work needed to be done.
He hoped the Punjab Green Development Programme would prove useful in controlling environment pollution in the province. He mentioned that work on farm mechanisation was underway to prevent incidents of crop residue burning.
Environment Protection Department Secretary Usman Ali Khan said that real-time monitoring of the air quality index was being done in Lahore.
Due to timely action, there has been a clear reduction in the incidents of stubble burning.
He said that in the last two months, 1521 industrial units causing environmental pollution in the province had been sealed, 1172 FIRs registered and fines of more than Rs 50 million had been imposed. In Lahore, 348 industrial units had been sealed and fines of more than Rs22.6 million had been imposed.
He said that 850,00 inspections were carried out and 5,755 smoke-emitting vehicles were impounded and 29 cases registered over burning garbage.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2022