Punjab imposes ‘environmental emergency’ in smog-hit Lahore

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LHC orders three holidays in a week for schools

The Punjab government imposed on Tuesday an environmental emergency in Lahore — where smog and air quality situation continues to get worse day by day — and declared the city calamity-hit.

The air quality levels of Lahore have been deteriorating to hazardous levels. At 5:30pm today, the air quality of the city on the AQI (air quality index) was noted to be 184. According to iqair.com, a website that monitors air quality across the globe, the city ranks as the fifth most polluted city in the world.

In a news conference today, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi said that an emergency had been imposed in the city and instructed authorities to chalk out a plan to combat the worsening situation.

“A ban has also been imposed on the burning of crop residues across the province,” Elahi said, warning that strict action will be taken against those violating the orders.

Moreover, the chief minister said modern harvesters would be provided to farmers in a bid to prevent them from stubble burning, while brick kilns will be transferred to zigzag technology.

He went on to say that anti-smog squads will be checking vehicles in the city emitting smoke and actions will be taken against them. “This campaign will last for three months,” Elahi added.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday ordered schools to observe three holidays in a week due to worsening situation of smog.

The court also ordered the Punjab government to submit the notification regarding the three leaves on Wednesday. In addition, the court ordered the Lahore deputy commissioner to appear in person on Wednesday.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing till Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Punjab School Education Department has issued guidelines in the wake of the worsening situation of smog.

As per instructions, wearing of masks has been made mandatory for students and teachers on the school premises. Moreover, the wearing of glasses in the classroom and a ban has been imposed on eye rubbing in the classrooms.

Outdoor activities have been restricted on the school premises while sprinkling of water has been made mandatory. On the other hand, a ban has been imposed on burning of any material within the boundary of schools.

Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi on Tuesday directed the relevant authorities to implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce smog in the city. He said that the government must take action against carbon emitting vehicles and farmers who burn stubble and other crop residue.

Elahi further directed the heads of all departments, including environmental protection, transport, Industries and administration to conduct field visits in their respective jurisdictions and ensure the implementation of the environmental emergency plan.

The chief minister further directed the anti-smog squad to take strict action against carbon emitting vehicles and check them at all entry and exit points to the city.

Further, he said that modern wheat harvesting system should be provided to all farmers for disposing of crop residue.