Smog indicates environmental degradation

Smog — blend of smoke and fog — has engulfed plain areas of Punjab and federal capital over the past week which has not only esulted in deaths of dozens of people due to traffic accidents but also left scores of people in hospitals with soar throat, breathing problems and skin irritation. Only panacea to smog eradication is rain which is not around, as per met office. According to the forecast smoggy weather conditions would continue to prevail in November and December due to less rainfall, so people with allergies and lung diseases need to be more careful and take precautionary measures in order to avoid more complications.
Due to rapid deforestation, increased industrial activity as well as unplanned urbanisation, our cities and towns over the years have been witnessing sudden change in weather patterns. Unusual rains or long dry spells are taking a heavy toll on human lives and health. In previous years we have seen unprecedented floods taking lives of hundreds of people and now smoggy conditions which occurs mainly because of severe air pollution has started showing its adverse impact on human health exposing the people to various health problems. While we urge people to be extra vigilant in these conditions and wear masks and goggles while in open places, it is high time for the government to give a serious consideration to cope with the issue to avert any public health disaster while also ensuring sustainable development. Whilst we appreciate the Punjab government for forming a committee tasked to come up with practical suggestions to overcome the situation caused by smog, we expect other provincial governments would also follow the suit. Rather they need to sit together to firm up a joint and comprehensive strategy that envisages a clear road map to combat environmental degradation. Though we do see seasonal plantation campaigns in the provinces but these have not produced desired results and therefore concrete efforts are needed to plant more and more trees instead of felling them in the name of development schemes. There must be a balance in economic activity, rapid industrialisation and vehicular activity to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

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