LAHORE: The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and police on Saturday arrested seven farmers and registered 21 cases against others for crop stubble burning in a province-wide operation. The PDMA also imposed Rs1.8m fine on farmers over violation.

The cases were registered against five farmers in Bahawalnagar, four in Bahawalpur, one in Kot Addu, three in Narowal, and six in Rajanpur, and two in Vehari. The police arrested four farmers in Bahawalpur, two in Rajanpur, and one in Kot Addu.

Punjab Relief Commissioner Nabeel Javed said all possible measures were being taken for smog control and the commissioners and DCs had been directed to ensure implementation of smart lockdowns. He said indiscriminate action would be taken against brick kilns and factories contributing to smog and measures were being taken to task to protect urban residents. He said the authorities enforcing laws should keep an eye on violations by the general public and the public should fulfill social responsibility seriously.

PDMA imposes lockdown in six divisions today

Khanewal Deputy Commissioner Waseem Hamid said 241 cases were registered against the farmers for stubble burning during the last four months.

He said a Rs4.4m fine was also imposed on the farmers over violation of anti-smog measures and declared that the operation was going on against the transport and industrial units causing pollution.

Meanwhile, the PDMA on Saturday announced a lockdown in six divisions of the province due to the worsening smog situation.

According to a notification issued by Punjab Relief Commissioner Nabeel Javed, smog has been declared as a calamity and a serious and imminent threat to public health in Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Sargodha, Faisalabad and Sahiwal divisions, which have the highest air quality index (AQI) and are potential hotspots for conjunctivitis due to smog.

The notification states that there shall be ‘restricted movement’ in the affected areas and the following measures shall be observed on Sunday:

All markets, shops and restaurants shall remain open after 4pm on Sunday. All citizens shall wear face masks during all kinds of outdoor movement/activities. Pharmacies, medical facilities and vaccination centers, petrol pumps, oil depots, tandoors, bakeries, grocery stores, dairy, sweet, vegetable/fruit, meat shops, e-commerce/postal/courier services, utility services, call centres and international IT centres are exempted from restrictions.

Already scheduled exams/assessment tests would continue. The notification says the government may impose further restrictions if the smog situation does not improve.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2023

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