LAHORE: Students wearing face masks enter their school, on Thursday. The caretaker government of Punjab imposed a ‘smog emergency’ across the province on Wednesday after air quality turned hazardous.—M. Arif / White Star
LAHORE: Students wearing face masks enter their school, on Thursday. The caretaker government of Punjab imposed a ‘smog emergency’ across the province on Wednesday after air quality turned hazardous.—M. Arif / White Star

LAHORE: The city continued to remain the second most polluted city of the world with a very unhealthy air quality on Thursday.

Maximum 442 Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 10am in the morning, according to data from the global air quality monitoring platform, iqair.com. The city’s air quality slightly improved in the afternoon to AQI of 196 till 6pm.

However, the situation again worsened with an air quality of 274 at 7pm and it became the second most polluted city globally. It’s important to note that an AQI below 50 is considered safe for breathing.

The situation varies across the city including Polo Ground Cantt 361, Lahore American School 311, Phase-8-DHA 309, CERP Office 306, Syed Maratib Ali Road 293, Pakistan Engineering Services (Pvt) Ltd. 282, Fida Hussain House 274, US Consulate in Lahore 248, Generation Pvt Ltd 224, and Aitchison College 212.

The city did not witness any improvement in overall AQI after the Punjab government declared smog as a calamity and vowed to implement measures to curb pollution levels.

Food chains may offer discount to cyclists, pedestrians

The government is claiming to be shutting down brick kilns and taking action against vehicles emitting pollution but the situation did not improve.

According to a recent Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, if Pakistan were to reduce particulate pollution to meet WHO guidelines, residents would gain a life expectancy of 2.7 years in Karachi, 7.5 years in Lahore, and 4.5 years in Islamabad.

The report also states that Pakistan is the world’s fourth most polluted country, with PM2.5 pollution shortening the average Pakistani resident’s life expectancy by 3.9 years, relative to what it would be if WHO guidelines were met.

Some areas of Pakistan face much worse than average conditions, with air pollution shortening lives by almost seven years in the country’s most polluted regions like Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, and Peshawar.

Environmental experts stress the importance of sustainable practices and stricter pollution control measures to prevent such episodes in the future.

Lahore Division Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa on Thursday chaired a meeting to make decisions on anti-smog measures.

He said with the cooperation of Punjab Food Authority and big food chains, a special discount will be offered to cyclists and pedestrians.

He said arrangements would be made to provide cycles to citizens on rent and the administration would cooperate with the cycling industry to play its role in the promotion of cycling culture in Lahore.

He said special lanes for cycling were marked around busy highways and shopping areas of the city and cycling lanes and parking stands should be constructed on important parts of Mall Road, Canal Bank Road, Jail Road, Main Boulevard Gulberg and Ferozepur Road.

The commissioner said the private sector and big housing societies of the city should also provide cycling facilities to the citizens.

He said educational institutions, cycling companies, and service providers were contacted to participate in weekly cycling and walking activities in Lahore.

He said civil society, lawyers, doctors, public and private sector will be made part of the special campaign.

In the meeting, Additional Commissioner Abdul Salam Arif, Director Development Javed Chauhan, Chief Engineer TEPA Iqrar Hussain, chief town planners, Assistant Commissioner Model Town Sahibzada Yusuf, director DG Headquarters and others participated.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2023

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