Let’s save cities

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The country’s two largest cities – Karachi and Lahore – are regularly figuring on air quality indexes as one of the most polluted in the world and many of the pollutants are also drivers of climate change. This should ring alarm bells in the relevant quarters to do the needful to reverse this dangerous trend and make the cities liveable for its dwellers.
According to Air Visual Lahore’s air quality went from being hazardous to unhealthy with an Air Quality Index (AQI) ranking of 157 on Saturday. This has put the city on the third spot whilst Karachi has been ranked as the tenth most polluted city with an AQI of 144. Areas with an AQI ranking between 101-150 is classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups and may pose health risks to ‘sensitive groups’, i.e., people with lung diseases, children and elderly people. For the last four years, smog, rightly being called the fifth season of Lahore, has deprived the people of sunshine and dusk-hour charm as layers of toxic smoke engulf horizon from November to February. It is important to take necessary {precautionary} measures to control this phenomenon. Use of substandard fuel in factories and burning of crop stubble and garbage should not be allowed in any case. Emissions from vehicles, factories, brick kilns etc are making the situation worse in both the cities. The fact of the matter is that criminal negligence has been meted out to the environment protection in the past whilst carrying out infrastructure development in the two cities whilst the situation in other big cities is not very different as they also have become concrete slabs with the unchecked growth of housing societies. While there is need to truly and fast track implementation of ten billion tree tsunami project with major focus on developing green areas in big cities, the government should also ensure vertical development of cities so that more and more area could be saved for plantation. There is also need to cut vehicular emissions by ensuring availability of better public transport facility to the commuters. Brick Kilns as well as other industries should be compelled to convert to the environment friendly technologies and those failing to do so should face strict action. It is the matter of our survival. Apart from the public and private sector, every individual has to play its part in order to leave a ‘save environment’ for our future generations.

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