The Punjab government imposed on Tuesday an environmental emergency in Lahore — where smog and air quality situation continues to get worse day by day — and declared the city calamity-hit.

The air quality levels of Lahore have been deteriorating to hazardous levels. At 5:30pm today, the air quality of the city on the AQI (air quality index) was noted to be 184. According to iqair.com, a website that monitors air quality across the globe, the city ranks as the fifth most polluted city in the world.

In a news conference today, Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi said that an emergency had been imposed in the city and instructed authorities to chalk out a plan to combat the worsening situation.

“A ban has also been imposed on the burning of crop residues across the province,” Elahi said, warning that strict action will be taken against those violating the orders.

Moreover, the chief minister said modern harvesters would be provided to farmers in a bid to prevent them from stubble burning, while brick kilns will be transferred to zigzag technology.

He went on to say that anti-smog squads will be checking vehicles in the city emitting smoke and actions will be taken against them. “This campaign will last for three months,” Elahi added.

LHC orders three-day closure of schools

Separately, the Lahore High Court has directed the provincial government to keep schools in Lahore closed for three days a week due to the worsening smog situation.

The order was passed by Justice Shahid Karim as the court took up public interest petitions on several issues relating to the environment.

Previously, the judge had observed that the provincial government seemed non-serious on the matter and sought suggestions to control the rising smog.

During the hearing today, Justice Karim observed that the petitions mentioned that authorities had failed to take apt measures to curb smog and instructed the government to issue a notification ordering the closure of schools for three days.

For his part, the government’s lawyer assured the LHC that a draft of the notification had been prepared and will be issued today.

Subsequently, the judge asked the government to present the notification in court tomorrow and summoned the deputy commissioner of Lahore.

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