Awakened by a Lahore High Court directive, the Punjab government has declared a smog emergency across the province in a concerted effort to combat the adverse effects of environmental pollution. Lahore city, due to its unhealthy air quality, has consistently ranked among the top three cities with the most polluted air in recent weeks. This emergency declaration aims to mitigate the impacts of smog and safeguard public health. The decision comes after the Lahore High Court reprimanded the Lahore commissioner for negligence in addressing the critical environmental issue.
To address the smog crisis, Punjab’s caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi called a meeting with provincial ministers, department heads, and environmental and health experts. During the meeting, experts provided insights on measures to combat smog effectively, emphasizing the importance of preventive actions.
The meeting considered several options, including imposing restrictions similar to those during the Coronavirus pandemic, such as the closure of educational institutions. However, environmental experts believe that such restrictions might not significantly alleviate the problem. Therefore, it was decided to mandate the use of masks in all public and private schools throughout the province for one month, beginning on November 2, 2023. The chief minister emphasized the significance of wearing masks and the need to prioritize students’ health.
To address air pollution caused by vehicles and factories emitting smoke and pollutants, the meeting emphasized the importance of taking action against these sources of pollution. It was directed to impose fines on farmers burning crop residues and ensure their proper disposal instead. Additionally, the meeting discussed taking action against individuals who contribute to pollution by not adequately controlling dust and sand materials in construction.
This comprehensive approach underscores the Punjab government’s commitment to addressing the smog issue and implementing necessary measures to safeguard public health.
In a related development, the Lahore High Court instructed the Lahore commissioner to declare a smog emergency in the provincial capital. Justice Shahid Kareem directed the commissioner to declare a smog emergency and seal factories that are contributing to environmental pollution.
The Punjab government’s proactive steps, along with the court’s intervention, highlight the urgency of tackling the smog crisis, particularly in densely populated areas such as Lahore. As public health and well-being are at stake, these measures aim to create a healthier and safer environment for residents of the province. The implementation of these strategies and the enforcement of regulations are crucial to addressing the pressing issue of smog and its adverse effects on air quality and public health.
The Punjab government’s response to the smog emergency is a significant move in the direction of environmental preservation and public health protection. It demonstrates a commitment to combating the long-standing issue of smog and improving air quality in the region.