Smog in Lahore; How We Got Here & How to Get Out!

*Ding Ding*...... Wake Up Authorities!


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The smog situation in Lahore is deteriorating day by day and with the harmful smog devastating the city and its citizens, the whole of Lahore is screaming Red Flag.

Lahore; a lucrative commercial city in the heart of Punjab is rather famous for its food, lush lifestyle and historic background. Sadly the city has gained more popularity and that too for all the wrong reasons. Lahore is now the third most polluted city in the world right after Dhaka. With the air quality index hitting a high of over 400 in the past week, Lahore’s air condition fell under the category of “hazardous” and things haven’t been quite great ever since.

This begs a question; how did we get here?

Causes

Well, much of it has to do with the pace of Lahore’s urbanization, in the past few decades, the boundaries of Lahore have been expanding, annihilating nearby villages and towns to fulfil the growing demand of residence and industry.

So; what happens when you cut forests and trees at a superhuman pace to pave way for machines and real estate schemes? You get a Modern-day Lahore; polluted, smoggy and unbearable.

Another reason behind this escalating situation is the burning of leftover crops by the farmers to free the land for the next crop in addition to incinerating industrial items, tires and trash. All this accumulates in the atmosphere and produces a harmful cloud of smog that encapsulates the city. Similarly, Lahore is slowly becoming overpopulated and not just by humans but by machines also.

So now besides Biryani, Lahore is also giving a tough competition to Karachi in terms of traffic. All the many vehicles with their not-so-environmental exhaust fumes just makes the matters worse.

Government’s Initiative?

Considering the detrimental effects of smog on the health of citizens, the government has imposed a strict ban on incinerating of crops and other times (realized that quick enough) with heavy penalties against violators. Schools and offices are to remain closed thrice a week from November 27 till January 15 and have been notified to shift to online until the smog matter is controlled. Moreover, the authorities have urged the people to wear masks and take precautionary measure for the sake of their health. In addition to that, the government is also looking at the option of artificial rain in collaboration with Punjab University to counter smog. Experts suggest that, four to six hours of artificial rain can help tremendously reduce the effect of smog.

Suggestions

The initiatives set forward by the government are critical to counter the worsening smog situation in Lahore and to ensure the welfare of the citizens. However, these are temporarily situations with little far-sightedness. Smog in Lahore is a matter that requires critical thinking, bold policy making and firm implementation for a permanent solution to the problem.

Following steps could be taken;

  1. Creating Green Belts.
  2. Limiting Vehicle Presence.
  3. Imposing Strict Vehicle Emissions.
  4. Investing in Green Public Transport.

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Habib Rajput

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