Wasa holds family cycling rally for smog awareness

Published November 6, 2023
Citizens rally to promote bicycle use to contain smog. — White Star
Citizens rally to promote bicycle use to contain smog. — White Star

LAHORE: The Water and Sanitation Authority (Wasa) on Sunday organised a family cycling event in Gulberg to promote use of cycles among the public for routine mobility to help cut vehicular emissions and save the environment of the city which has been ranked the most polluted in the world for its hazardous air quality.

On the other hand, the divisional administration of Lahore has requested the managements of restaurants to offer discounts on food to those coming to their outlets on bicycles, according to officers concerned.

“Such activities not only promote a culture of using cycles for routine jobs, but also keep us protected from the adverse impacts of smog and other environment related issues,” says Arshad, a city resident while preparing to join the cycle rally at its starting point -- E-library, Nishtar Park, Gulerg, near the Gaddafi Stadium.

“It has become a routine to use bikes, cars etc for doing routine works, like purchasing grocery etc from even nearby markets. It is very bad for our health as well as for the environment,” he says.

Opened jointly by the Lahore Commissioner/LDA Director General Muhammad Ali Randhawa, Wasa Managing Director Ghufran Ahmad and Traffic Engineering & Transport Planning Agency (Tepa) Chief Iqrar Hussain, the rally entitled ‘Smog Awareness Family Ride’ was participated by a number of families, government officials and others from various walks of life.

The rally took a round of Nishtar Park’s Ferozepur Road gate and then took a full round of the Gaddafi Stadium’s outer road, passing in front of the Punjab Stadium. It then moved through internal roads of the Nishtar Park and concluded at its originating point (E-library).

Special arrangements were made to facilitate the families, including children and the elderly persons, who joined the rally. Senior government officials also participated in the rally to show their support.

“Lahore has been listed among the most polluted cities with the highest smog incidence in recent years. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to forcefully deal with this issue now before it adversely impact the environment and worsen people’s health,” says the commissioner while speaking to the rally participants at the conclusion of the event.

“Smog Awareness Family Ride initiative is one of the key steps in promoting a go-green attitude among the citizens. It will also help us in creating awareness about cleaner, greener and sustainable Lahore,” he maintained.

Smog blankets Saggian bridge over Ravi. — White Star
Smog blankets Saggian bridge over Ravi. — White Star

The commissioner said it was the first smog awareness activity that has been organised by Wasa, which also arranged cycles for the rally participants to encourage the participation.

He further stated that a ‘green line’ track has been allocated for cyclists along the Gulberg’s Main Boulevard from Liberty Roundabout to Zahoor Elahi Road.

Dedicated tracks and lanes are also being marked on other roads of the city to encourage

use of cycle, he said, adding that cycle stands are also being established on major roads of Lahore. Moreover, he said, the cycle manufacturing companies are being asked to come forward and set up outlets offering cycles on rent at different places on the major city roads.

“We have also asked the Punjab Food Authority to ask restaurants to offer discounts for the costumers visiting their outlets on cycles so as to promote cycling culture to combat smog and curb vehicular emission in the city,” Mr Randhawa says.

Speaking on the occasion, Wasa MD Mr Ghufran Ahmad said: “Lahore is our home and we all should come forward to promote a healthy environment here.” Wasa would keep collaborating for such events with the divisional administration to improve the city’s environment, he added.

Meanwhile, the divisional administration plans to include such cycling events in the city’s annual calendar.

It says that the Lahore High Court has given clear directions to the government for promoting healthy activities in the city. Instructions have been issued to set up green lanes for cycling. Under the anti-smog campaign, 135 intersections in the city are being expanded to reduce traffic congestion. Similarly, the tanneries which are not installing the chrome removal water treatment plants will be closed.

The Punjab government is fully committed to holding awareness events for the citizens to promote healthy lifestyles and contribute to the movement to make Lahore cleaner, breathable, and environmentally friendly, it pledges in a press release.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2023

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