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LHC censures govt for failing to curb smog, seeks air quality index data

LAHORE: Expressing extreme displeasure over the poor performance of the provincial environment department to curb smog, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed it to submit data showing level of air quality and smog on next hearing.

Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, who headed the bench, irked when he was informed that data about air quality and smog was not available to the department concerned.

Life expectancy was reducing owing to pollution, but the government was fast asleep, observed the chief justice, adding that people faced emergency-like situation, while the government didn’t seem to be taking emergency measures to cope with the situation.

He said according to social media Pakistan has exceeded limit for air pollution, but the government didn’t have data to know level of pollution and smog.

The bench was hearing a petition seeking measures to control smog that has been persisting in parts of Punjab, disrupting air and road traffic, causing fatal traffic accidents and throat and eye illnesses.

During previous hearing, the petitioner’s counsel had apprised the court that a large number of citizens faced health issues due to heavy smog caused by air pollution. However, the government made no practical measures to guide the citizens and clear smog, he said.

The secretary environment explained that smog is caused by burning of crops in Indian Punjab as the provincial government has taken punitive action against industrial units causing pollution and burning of slid waste and crops in the province.

The provincial government has imposed ‘Section 144’ in the province till December 16 to bar farmers from burning leftover crops waste, which believed to be one of the prime contributors to the smog problem in Punjab.

Punjab has been badly struck with foggy weather condition in recent years in beginning days of winter in the region. The prevalent smog episode is similar to the one that struck the province last year, noted chief meteorologist Mohammad Riaz.

The smog is caused by a lack of rain and immense pollution. Smoke from vehicles, factories and burning of the remains of crops could be one of the major factors behind the dense smog in the province, Riaz said.

Analysts are of the opinion that a spell of heavy rains or strong winds could clear the hazy conditions in the province.



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