Despite anti-smog steps, Lahore’s AQI continues to be hazardous

Published November 21, 2023
People are silhouetted as they row team boats amid smog, as air pollution levels rise in Karachi, Pakistan on Nov 20, 2023. — Reuters
People are silhouetted as they row team boats amid smog, as air pollution levels rise in Karachi, Pakistan on Nov 20, 2023. — Reuters

LAHORE: The city again had hazardous air quality with maximum Air Quality Index (AQI) of 409 on Monday, causing health issues among its residents, especially children and the elderly.

The AQI varied across the city, with UMT 301, CERP Office 274, Polo Ground Cantt 270, Syed Maratib Ali Road 265, Lahore American School 245, NETSOL 245, Pakistan Engineering Services (Pvt) Ltd. 219, US Consulate 210, WWF Pakistan 210, and Fida Hussain House 209.

An AQI above 100 is considered unhealthy, above 150 very unhealthy and above that it is termed hazardous.The latest AQI levels for Lahore’s adjacent districts of Sheikhupura, Kasur, and Nankana Sahib also show alarming figures.

On Monday, Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa chaired a review meeting on smog and emphasised the need for awareness campaigns on mask usage and a comprehensive strategy to combat the smog crisis.

Strict actions against environmental law violators were also discussed during the meeting, with 16,812 vehicle issued tickets and a fine of Rs30.29 million imposed during anti-smog operations.

The commissioner instructed deputy commissioners (DCs) to ensure the implementation of anti-smog measures, with a focus on monitoring and taking immediate action against crop residue burning.

He highlighted the importance of a coordinated effort from all sectors to adopt cleaner practices and reduce sources of air pollution.

In a bid to address traffic congestion, anti-encroachment operations were jointly conducted by Municipal Corporation of Lahore (MCL), Lahore Development Authority (LDA), and the district administration at 32 busiest points in the city.

The commissioner stressed that removing encroachments would facilitate better traffic flow.

For smog-related complaints and information, citizens are encouraged to use the helpline 042111425725, WhatsApp number 03289491760, and social media accounts.

Mr Randhawa assured that complaints not resolved within 24 hours would be addressed by his office.

To strengthen enforcement, special squads under supervision of DCs and DPOs concerned have started patrolling Lahore to Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib Motorways at night, officials claimed.The commissioner urged citizens to report smog-contributing factors promptly.

The meeting was also attended by key officials from various departments, including DCs of Sheikhupura, Kasur, Nankana, besides Lahore ADC, and officials of Wasa, LDA, health department, Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC), Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA), police, and the agriculture department.

The hazardous smog is causing health issues among the city residents, including cough, breathing difficulties, eye irritation, and skin infections. Children, the elderly and individuals already having respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, are particularly vulnerable to effects of smog.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023

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