Week-long complete lockdown proposed to improve air quality

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A meeting of a working committee constituted by Lahore High Court for prevention of smog and solution to traffic problems on Saturday proposed a one-week complete lockdown in the city to improve Air Quality Index (AQI).

The meeting was headed by Tepa Chief Engineer Abdul Razzaq. In absence of rain in near future, the provincial metropolis may face a one week complete lockdown as the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the provincial metropolis remains high and the City is termed third most polluted city in the world.

The Punjab government took various steps to minimise smog and to improve AQI including closing schools, colleges and academies on Saturday and Monday. Crackdowns were carried out on smoky vehicles and industries, but AQI remained high.

As per official data released by EPA on Saturday, AQI recorded at DHA was 371, at Gulberg it was 374, at Township it was 250 and Town Hall it was 271.

Environmentalists said higher level of AQI means implementation of anti-smog SOPs was not being implemented. They said vehicular pollution as well as industrial pollution was not coming down. They suggested an indiscriminate action against all smoke-emitting activities.

The News contacted Director General, EPA, Ms Ambreen, but she didn’t receive the call. Text messages were also sent to her.

It is pertinent to mention here that the EPA DG recently stopped all EPA officials from speaking with the media and declared herself and secretary, EPD, as the only persons to interact with the media.

The News also contacted EPD secretary to know the reasons why AQI levels of the City were not coming down. The secretary said the department has recently notified Amer Farooq as the new focal person, who while talking to The News, said the department was making every effort to control smog.

To a question that many smoke-emitting industrial units were operating late night in the city, he said such incidents were reported and the department has involved police in conducting late night operations against such units.

A meeting of working committee constituted by Lahore High Court for prevention of smog and solution of traffic problems headed by TEPA’s Chief Engineer Abdul Razzaq was held here on Saturday and proposed a one week complete lockdown in the city to improve the AQI.

The LHC constituted committee meeting was attended by focal persons of traffic police, municipal corporation, cantonment board and DHA.

The working committee recommended a one-week lockdown to prevent smog in case there is no rain in near future.

Tepa Chief Engineer Abdul Razzaq Chauhan while talking to The News said the proposed lockdown period can be extended if rain does not take place. He said anti-encroachment campaign was in full swing to avoid traffic jams.

He said the working committee has prepared a report which will be submitted to the High Court in the next hearing. He said the working committee has proposed to build underpass and flyover at Bhatta Chowk. He said Tepa will start redesigning of Bhatta Chowk as soon as funds will be issued to Tepa.

He said the working committee has also proposed to set a deadline for old vehicles to run on the roads as presently there is no age limit for vehicles.

The chief engineer said the working group has decided to intensify the campaign to end encroachments on roads and it was also proposed to shift main wholesale markets outside the city.

On the other hand, Met officials said a weak westerly wave was likely to enter western parts of the country and likely to persist in upper parts of the country till Sunday (today).

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