Another day of thick smog as AQI touches 439 mark

Published November 1, 2023
Smoke billows from a factory in residential area of Shahdara. — White Star
Smoke billows from a factory in residential area of Shahdara. — White Star

LAHORE: The residents of Lahore woke up to yet another day of thick smog, as the city on Tuesday continued to maintain its unfortunate position as the world’s most polluted city with hazardous air quality.

The citizens grappled with the severe health and environmental repercussions despite government efforts to address the issue.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Lahore recorded an alarming Air Quality Index (AQI) of 439, according to the global air quality monitoring platform, iqair.com. The situation remained grim throughout the day, with the AQI hovering at 325. It’s important to note that an AQI below 50 is considered safe for breathing.

The smog crisis was even worse in specific areas within Lahore, with real-time AQI measurements showing Fida Hussain House at 448, Polo Ground Cantt at 403, CERP Office at 381, Syed Maratib Ali Road at 376, Lahore American School at 365, Pakistan Engineering Services (Pvt) Ltd at 342, Brevzon at 325, Generation (private) limited at 299, Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam at 264, and the US Consulate at 258.

Admin taking a raft of measures to control the hazards

Meanwhile, Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa issued orders to revenue teams and all officers regarding anti-smog actions.

He said more number of mist vehicles must be used for sprinkling water on the roads and all the revenue teams and officers must focus the whole day today on operations against stubble burning.

He said all the officers will check the brick kilns and strict action will be taken against violation of instructions. He said special teams must move in North Lahore and Mahmood Booti area and check every plant and industrial unit. The commissioner also called for separate report on operations from each team and officers on Tuesday evening.

He directed that the industrial units running without emission control system must be sealed and water is being sprayed on Jinnah Hall to Kalma Chowk, Ferozepur Road, General Hospital Road, Harbanspura Road and other thoroughfares in the city through mist vehicles.

He said with the help of Safe City cameras, traffic police must take action against every vehicle emitting smoke through special squads. He directed that anti-smog operations and actions should be expedited and zero tolerance should be observed for violations.

The anti-smog operations were carried out in every sector in the entire division including Lahore. All 1,090 kilns in Lahore division are on zigzag technology and 178 kilns were sealed for [zigzag] violation.

As many as 97 cases were registered against kilns for zigzag violations in the entire division and a fine of Rs1 million was imposed.

A fine of Rs 14.8m was imposed on 7,342 vehicles emitting smoke and hundreds of vehicles were impounded.

All 51 pyrolysis plants were completely sealed and shut down and a fine of Rs5.2m was imposed, 128 cases were registered against burning of crop residue.

As many as 25 teams have been formed on the Motorway Squad for anti-smog and revenue teams were patrolling.

As many as 2,426 industrial units were checked in Lahore and a fine of Rs 8.76m was imposed for violation and 491 industrial units were sealed and 160 cases registered for violation of anti-smog guidelines and non-operation of emission control. PHA and LDA planted 200,000 and 126,000 trees, respectively.

Water has been sprinkled on 290 km roads of the city so far by vehicles of LWMC, WASA and MCL.

The commissioner said anti-smog operations have been accelerated since Sept 1 and Section 144 is in force in the entire division to ban coverless trolleys, green waste, solid waste, crop burning.

He said there is continuous water sprinkling in all development projects area and third-party monitoring is being conducted.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2023

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