The Lahore High Court on Monday ordered all schools and colleges in Punjab to remain closed on November 18 to curb smog, as it recommended a two-day remote work for employers.

The Punjab caretaker government imposed a “smog emergency” on Nov 1 in the province following the LHC’s directive to take immediate measures to rein in the hazardous air quality, which is in the ‘poor’ rating bracket.

In that hearing, Justice Shahid Karim said the government is responsible for the current state of smog.

Eastern Punjab has lately been plagued with a smog crisis, with Lahore’s Air Quality Index at 134.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used to report daily air quality. It tells how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for people. Currently, Karachi’s AQI is 158 and Peshawar’s AQI is 194.

 Screengrab taken from AQI
Screengrab taken from AQI

Today, while hearing a petition about smog, Justice Karim said: “All schools and colleges will remain closed on Saturdays … Work from home policy should be followed twice a week,” Justice Shahid Karim said.

Justice Karim stated that Commissioner Lahore has been unable to control the smog in the city. “Whenever Commissioner Lahore comes here, he makes promises that he cannot keep,” Justice Karim said.

The judge ordered District Commissioner Jhang, Hafizabad, Khanewal, Nankana, Bahawalnagar and Sheikhupura to be replaced immediately, adding that the videos of crop residue burning were upsetting.

“Chief Secretary Punjab should issue notification to transfer these officers,” Justice Karim said.

The judge also recommended to the government to provide electric motorcycles for their local staff.

The hearing was adjourned till Wednesday.

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