The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday ordered authorities to impose a fine of Rs50,000 on restaurants not adhering to the government’s anti-smog measures.

It also instructed authorities to seal cafes violating the guidelines.

The directions come as several cities of Punjab, especially Lahore, remain blanketed with toxic smog after pollutants in the air quality spiralled with the start of cooler temperatures in November.

According to the Air Quality Index, the AQI in Lahore at 1pm today was recorded at 201, which falls under the category of very unhealthy. The main pollutant was PM2.5, which is a fine particulate matter that can enter the lungs and bloodstream, resulting in serious health issues.

The provincial government has recently taken a string of measures to control smog, including partial lockdowns and campaigns to wear masks. However, the anti-smog steps have had little impact thus far.

Earlier, LHC’s Justice Shahid Karim, while hearing a set of environment-related petitions, had ordered the closure of all commercial activities in the provincial metropolis by 10pm every day of the week as a measure to control smog.

As the proceedings commenced today, the judge directed authorities to seal cafes in Lahore’s Johar Town for violating the orders. He also directed the administration to fine restaurants not adhering to the anti-smog measures.

Separately, the counsel for the Lahore Development Authority told the court that the construction and renovation of underpasses in the city would be completed by Dec 25.

However, the judge stated that the said work should be wrapped up before the aforementioned date. “The construction of nine underpasses is creating traffic jams,” he noted.

“If I give you permission to continue work on underpasses during the day how much time would it take to complete them,” he asked the LDA lawyer. “Hold consultations on this and give the court a final date,” the judge added.

At one point, Justice Karim also inquired if the Punjab Central Business District Development Authority had initiated a “green project” in the city. He lamented that high-rise buildings were being constructed but no one was working on a green project.

Subsequently, the court sought a report on the matter from the CBD at the next hearing and adjourned the proceedings till Monday (Dec 11).

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