Punjab’s Environment Protection Department (EPD) has sprung into action, sealing 113 factories and fining 250 vehicles after Lahore was engulfed by hazardous smog ahead of the winter season for the second year in a row. The crackdown, spread over a period of 10 days, also resulted in the department collecting Rs1.5 million in fines. “The sealed factories and the fined vehicles were harming the environment and were a cause of air pollution,” EPD Director Anjum Riaz said.
He also said that “samples” were being collected from steel mills located in the city. Officials of the EPD have earlier admitted lack of capacity and resources to deal with the hazardous smog, which has now become a recurring pre-winter feature in the city. According to EPD Labs Director Tauqeer Ahmed Qureshi, heavy duty machines needed for measuring particulate matter and noxious gases are not only highly sensitive, but also extremely expensive.
“We have limited financial and human resources,” he said. “Our last tender for the instruments was for Rs40 million per machine, while maintenance alone would cost Rs5 million every year per station.” Even if the three instruments they have were working perfectly, he says, they could get readings only for two fixed areas every day. The city needs at least 15 to 20 stations.
“In every location, there are so many factors: proximity of industries, traffic congestion, time of the year, wind direction, temperature, cloud cover etc. How can we give a daily mean reading in such a situation?” he asked.