As October dawned, Lahore was once again covered in thick haze. The air quality suddenly reached a concerning level. The city’s escalating air pollution levels have been deemed “hazardous” to public health. The Punjab government was directed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday to declare a pollution emergency and schedule a conference to discuss preventative measures before the bitter cold sets in.
The court remarked that the measures to eradicate smog should be finalized and a team should immediately be constituted to take action against those responsible. It was further added that vehicles should be provided to the teams. If this does not happen, the vehicles of the chief secretary’s office will be handed over to them. The court also ordered the authorities to declare a smog emergency in the province and directed them to purchase air quality sensors within two weeks.
The reasons why air quality has been steadily declining in cities like Lahore are numerous. Vehicular emissions, industrial pollution, fossil fuel-fired power plants, the burning of waste materials, and coal being burned by thousands of brick kilns spattered across the province are all part of the problem.
Over the past 15 years, Lahore has lost a significant proportion of its tree cover due to an aggressive plan to build highways, underpasses, and overpasses. Car sales in the city are booming, and many of the cars plying the roads spew toxic emissions due to a lack of vehicular inspections and widespread adulteration of fuel. Even the unadulterated form of fuel available in Lahore is of low quality.
The court has ordered authorities to submit an implementation report in the next proceeding and adjourned the hearing till October 14.