SARGODHA: Vehicles pass through an area enveloped by smog, on Wednesday.—APP
SARGODHA: Vehicles pass through an area enveloped by smog, on Wednesday.—APP

LAHORE: The Punjab caretaker government has imposed a ‘smog emergency’ in the province following the Lahore High Court’s direction to take immediate measures to control hazardous air quality.

“The smog emergency has been enforced across Punjab and wearing a mask is mandatory for students in all public and private schools for one month,” caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said while presiding over a meeting to take stock of the situation following the court’s order about smog on Wednesday.

He said stern action would be taken against those who, during the construction of houses, failed to sprinkle water on dust, sand and debris.

He urged the farmers not to burn crops stubbles and dispose them of in an appropriate manner. “Stern action should be taken against smog-emitting vehicles and factories without any discrimination. Whatever steps are possible should be taken for the reduction and elimination of smog,” he said and ordered withdrawal of challans against farmers during smog.

Wearing mask made mandatory for students in all schools for one month

Environment and health specialists gave a briefing about precautionary measures to be taken with regard to reduction in smog.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority declared smog a “calamity” and banned the burning of crop residue and instructions were also issued for launching a crackdown on vehicles emitting smoke.

It also recommended action against the factories causing environmental pollution with district administrations closely monitoring all industries and brick kilns.

The deputy commissioners have been delegated powers of the relief commissioner to take all necessary measures to control and mitigate smog.

At the LHC, Justice Shahid Karim ordered the caretakers to immediately impose “smog emergency” in the provincial metropolis due to constantly hazardous air quality index.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the Lahore commissioner’s performance to control the air pollution. “Smog is not my personal problem but it is a matter of concern for the lives of our children,” the judge reminded the commissioner during the hearing of several petitions on environmental issues.

Justice Karim expres­sed serious displeasure and urged Commissioner Muham­mad Ali Randha­­wa to be ashamed of the city’s condition.

“You are the custodian of Lahore city. Just see what you have done to it,” the judge asked the commissioner.

The judge ordered the government to halt renovation work happening in the underpasses of the city before 12am. He also orde­red a strict crackdown on smoke-emitting factories with an instruction to seal them on violation.

Justice Karim ordered the activation of the special helpline for smog control and directed that teachers and students in schools should be taught to report daily on the helpline about the industrial units causing pollution in their respective areas.

The judge regretted that uncontrolled development projects in the city had been causing serious environmental damage.

He noted that in the past smog used to hit Lah­o­­re in late November and early December but this year it came in October.

The judge would re­­sume hearing in the case on Friday (tomorrow).

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2023

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