LAHORE: In a top-level meeting held at WASA head office, headed by The Chairman Judicial Water and Environment Commission (JWEC), the issue of smog was discussed in detail and the chief secretary was ordered to submit a weekly report on the level of smog along with the measures taken by the authorities for the prevention of the ever-increasing phenomenon of smog in the provincial metropolis and the surrounded areas. The Judicial Water and Environment Commission rose up to action in the aftermath of the current reports by the international agencies ranking Lahore in the second position among the top five cities of the world with poor and unhealthy air quality.
A few days back the air monitors of the US consulate had recorded the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Lahore as between 223-231 from 8 am to 10 am, and ranked as The Most Air Polluted City In Pakistan. The recorded score was much higher than the required standards of below 50. Following the reports of international monitors, the Punjab Government has directed the concerned authorities to take measures to curb smog on an urgent basis. The Deputy Commissioner has already been assigned the powers of relief commissioners to take necessary measures to control smog. Over the past few years, smog has become a routine matter in the major cities of the Punjab Province between October to January. Last year too Lahore and Faisalabad stood among the world’s top cities with unhealthy environments.
Chief Secretary Punjab, who participated in the meeting online, directed the concerned DCs to expedite the directions immediately and submit weekly Reports On Smog. Secretary Agriculture informed the Commission that 1236 incidents of burning of crops were reported on which 400 FIRs were registered and around 10 lac of fine was imposed on the violators. The Chief Traffic Officer told that there were around 6.5 million vehicles on the roads of the provincial capital of which 4.5 million were bikes. The secretary of transport demanded modern equipment for checking the emission of smoke levels in the vehicles. The environment secretary also discussed the measures taken by his department to check the crop burning and brick kilns in reducing Smog Issue.
The experts and international monitors are placing the transport sector of Punjab as the major contributor to the smog phenomenon in the province followed by industry and agriculture. The government agencies need to implement the rules and regulations in letter and spirit to minimize the level of smog in the province. For instance, the imposition of fines on crop burning, brick kilns without zigzag technology, the vehicles' emissions beyond the acceptable level, and on the industries without emission control system.