LAHORE: The city of Lahore once again found itself at the top of the list of highly polluted major cities worldwide, with hazardous air quality posing a significant threat to its residents.

Early in the morning, the city recorded an alarming air quality index (AQI) of 430, based on data from the global air quality monitoring platform, iqair.com.

While there was a temporary improvement in air quality around noon, with the AQI dropping to 197, the situation took a concerning turn in the evening and at 8:30pm, the AQI surged to 273, ranking Lahore as the second most polluted city globally. An AQI below 50 is considered safe for breathing.

Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa convened a meeting to discuss anti-smog measures, with the participation of deputy commissioners, district administrative staff, as well as representatives from LDA, health officers, LWMC, police, agriculture department, and other relevant officials.

During the meeting, the commissioner shared contact numbers for the anti-smog divisional cell and encouraged citizens to use the helpline number 042-111425725 and WhatsApp number 0328-9491760 for reporting smog-related complaints and seeking information.

He said that, besides relevant departments, smog monitoring stations would be established in police stations, and immediate action would be taken in response to citizens’ information and complaints.

The commissioner announced a complete ban on smoke-emitting vehicles and mentioned that a designated area would be prepared within the next 24 hours to impound such vehicles.

The commissioner added that the environment department would seal industrial units, with reopening only possible through a court order.

He said the importance of addressing the smog issue should be highlighted in school and college assemblies from Thursday and deputy commissioners would visit educational institutions in their respective areas.

The commissioner said smog was a calamity and warned of strict action against traffic in charge if trolleys with uncovered sand entered the area.

He said that every development department is bound to sprinkle water in the project area after every two hours.

The commissioner said district administration will be responsible to take strict action regarding stubble burning and black smoke from any chimney of brick kilns and factories and all brick kilns should be transferred to zigzag technology.

He said that every smoking vehicle will be impounded and will be released only after attaining proper fitness certificate.

He said special anti-smog squads consisting of district and highway police must patrol day and night to stop crop burning.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2023

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