The city of Lahore has been declared the most polluted city in the world, surpassing Indian capital New Delhi. The smog crisis has aggravated and citizens have urged the government to take urgent action. It is, however, preposterous that the government rather than finding a solution is taking action against those issuing the air quality index.
The conditions of air pollution worsen during winter and seasonal crop burning season. Pakistan has often blamed stubble burning in India for the smog conditions in Lahore. The conditions have worsened over the past decade from vehicular pollution, smoke fumes and colder winter temperatures. The lack of data and research on the impact of air pollution on human health makes the situation worse. We also lack discussing the issue on a national level such as in China and India.
To tackle the situation, anti-smog squads have been formed to monitor pollution levels in the provincial capital. Punjab health minister made the bizarre claim that there was no smog in the province for the last two years. The minister had also asked the FIA to take action against those issuing authorized data on air quality. It is unfortunate that the minister thinks ‘unscrupulous elements’ are attempting to damage the nation’s image by reporting air quality index.
The government should focus on handling the smog crisis rather than taking action against those issuing air quality data on social media under cyber laws. It is the foremost responsibility to protect, conserve and rehabilitate the environment rather than shooting the messenger. While residents have blamed the government apathy for their plight, the minister claims to have taken action to curb air pollution.
The residents are choking in the acrid smog and children are facing breathing difficulties. In recent years, they have built their own air purifiers and taken out lawsuits against government officials in desperate bids to clean the air. Authorities have been slow to react and have been unable to find a solution or even a contingency plan for the recurring crisis. The prime minister’s environmental plan should include efforts to reduce air pollution. We need to raise awareness about hazards and solutions to tackle the smog crisis.