LAHORE: In a bid to reduce the hazardous air quality level that has plagued Lahore for weeks, the provincial government has launched a road washing programme to make the city dust-free.

The programme, which was formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Saturday, aims to wash 79 roads and boulevards of the city using mechanical washers, mechanical sweepers and tractor-pulled sweeper machines.

According to the Lahore Waste Management Authority (LWMC), 18 mechanical washers, 12 mechanical sweepers and 40 tractor-pulled sweepers are taking part in the road washing drive, which will be completed in three shifts to dispose of construction and demolition material, along with garbage.

The CM says the drive will turn all the marked points into zero-waste areas in the next 48 hours, and that the roads will be washed twice a week on the pattern of Saudi Arabia.

Lahore continues to top the cities with worst air quality

He says the initiative has been taken in response to the alarming smog situation that has made Lahore the most polluted city in the world, according to the Air Quality Index (AQI).

On Saturday, the maximum AQI level of the city was reported at 356 at 9am, while the city was ranked as the second most polluted in the world after Delhi at 7:30pm.

Other areas of the city also recorded high levels of air pollution, including Zacky Farms (AQI 418), University of Management and Technology (338), FAST University Lahore (331), Pakistan Engineering Services (Pvt) Ltd. (280), CERP Office (278), Syed Maratib Ali Road (270), Fida Hussain House (267), NETSOL (267), WWF-Pakistan (241) and Polo Ground in Cantonment (239).

The CM says that the smog level increases due to dust and traffic, and urged the people to also make their houses dust-free.

“We are determined to make Lahore completely dust-free. The roads will be washed two to three times a week. Instead of the Jail Road, The Mall and main boulevards, roads like Multan Road, Ferozepur Road and Circular Road will be washed.

The washing of roads in Shahdara area will be undertaken tonight. We want either to entirely eliminate dust or at least minimise it. Hopefully, smog will be reduced with the reduction of dust through washing,“ Mr Naqvi said.

He directed the authorities concerned not to wash the roads at noon and in the evening to ensure smooth traffic flows, and expedite enforcement actions against those involved in doing illegal dumping of debris along the roads.

He said four teams, each comprising 100 workers, have been activated for washing the roads, that would be done during night hours (from 8pm to 6am) to save people from inconvenience. “We cannot close down the schools due to examinations. The winter vacation will commence from Dec 18. There is no possibility of any rain, but we are striving at our own level,” he said.

He said that the government was working on the possibility of artificial rain, but it required a little amount of clouds, which is not in sight at the moment.

He said that cycling can be done on a holiday, but the government cannot force the people to run their cycles.

He admitted that the traffic diversion experiment at the Garhi Shahu Chowk did not succeed.

Housing and cooperative societies will also be directed to undertake washing of roads, he said.

He announced that 302 schemes of construction and repair of roads will be started in a few days in Lahore and will be completed in 45 days.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2023

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