Fighting smog


Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif formed a committee to fight smog, affecting daily life of citizens especially the motorcyclists. In many cities of Punjab, including Lahore, people faced difficulties due to smog as the visibility level was very low. The smog in the air is believed to be harmful for health.According to DG Metrological department, Dr Ghulam Rasool, the thick layer of smog blanketing Lahore and other parts of central Punjab for over the last 48 hours will prevail for next two months.“This situation is going to last till the end of December, as it hasn’t rained in the central Punjab since October,” said Dr Ghulam Rasool, Director General of the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
This week, residents of Lahore woke up to a smog that felt asphyxiating, crowding out the early winter sunshine. While thick smog blankets Lahore every December, choking its traffic — both on highways and in the sky — the fact that the catastrophe has struck the city a month early this year says a great deal about the worsening environmental degradation. It comes as a clear sign that Pakistan can no longer afford to remain oblivious towards its grave air pollution problem as it has always been.
All discourses with regard to lines of action against the national health emergency, at least efficiently, would be futile unless the country first acknowledges the gravity of this problem. Amid constant calls by the international community to let go of fossil fuels, Pakistan remains determined as ever to invest in the dirtiest source of energy on the planet: coal. Thus, the authorities appear to be in no mood to at least minimise if not eliminate carbon emissions by the transport and industrial sector. Despite some efforts to neutralise traffic-related pollution (including schemes to replace two-stroke rickshaws with four-stroke ones), no significant difference has yet been made as polluting vehicles continue to dominate roads across the country.
The gross air quality is not helped by an abundance of coal-related industries in the Indian Punjab, whose toxic fumes, with their previously-gained notoriety for making New Delhi the world’s most polluted city, have also crossed the border.
The dangerously high pollution levels closer to home are not just harmful because of the ongoing degradation in visibility. While the dismal state of public records has failed to fully record deaths due to respiratory diseases, lung cancer is still considered by many sources as fast becoming a cause of death for many across the country.
Lahore, in particular, is suffering irrevocable damages to its residents and foreign investors at the hands of this monstrosity as it is slated amongst the world’s worst cities for smog. In addition to clearing its own industrial and road emissions, Pakistan needs to collaborate with India in establishing cleaner alternatives to the present emphasis on non-renewable power resources. Rapid deforestation has already set forth extensive health hazards, taking away from the people the most fundamental right to breathe in clean air across the country at large. Pakistani authorities should set forth all fundamental changes needed to establish an economy that grows sustainably along with environmental development.