The provincial capital was trending on the list of most polluted cities in the world on Saturday with Air Quality Index (AQI) rating hovering between 141 and 350 in different areas of the metropolis.
The real-time data collected from various government and private monitors shows that Lahore remained as the second most polluted city in the world with average AQI rating of 217 followed by Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It highlighted the provincial capital had also left Delhi behind in atmospheric pollution. Dahka, Kalkata, Karachi and Seoul were also among the list of most polluted cities declared by the US air quality monitoring agency IQ Air.
It ptojrcted air quality of the provincial capital as very unhealthy for human and animals alike as PM2.5 concentration in Lahore air is currently 40.6 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value. Besides other monitoring and administrative measures, provincial government has initiated an awareness raising campaign to sensitise masses about smog hazards and precautions.
Lahore Division Commissioner Capt (retd) Muhammad Usman and Lahore Deputy Commissioner Omer Sher Chatha, on Saturday, led a city bicycle rally to raise awareness about smog under the slogan of ‘Zero Carbon Pledge’. Cyclist in rally, including men, women, children, civil society activists and professional cyclists, toured from Qurtaba Chwk to Liberty Chowk, Gulberg.
On the directions of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, commissioner highlighted that to rein in smog, the administration was trying to decrease the number of vehicles on roads for one month. Because vehicular pollution is a main contributor to environmental pollution followed by industrial smoke and other factors. Five special anti-smog squads were actively inspecting industrial units and sealing industries running without emission control systems.
He revealed that his office had already impounded half of its official vehicles to motivate other government agencies and public at large. He said he had also issued directions to establish five special squads, comprising of traffic police, transport and administrator Larri Adda to check smoke emitting vehicles in the city.
Meanwhile, presiding over a meeting on implementation of anti-smog policy order issued by relief commissioner, commissioner directed authorities concerned to post permanent special traffic teams in the comparatively most polluted areas of Lahore. He said deputy commissioner would deploy special squads on five the busiest roads of the metropolis.
He also directed the authorities concerned to establish joint team of LDA, MCL, PHA, LWMC for sprinkling of water daily on trees, development projects and roads to control dust in environment.
He instructed the officers concerned to launch a targeted crackdown on encroachments creating traffic bottle necks and causing smog due traffic mess on those areas.
Senior officials of the Lahore Water and Sanitation Agency, on Saturday, also reached offices on bicycles to motivate other citizens to use bicycles till the dust settles.
The district administration has also planned to motivate petroleum products manufacturers to stop production of low-grade fuel and temporarily ensure supply of only Euro-5 grade fuel to the provincial capital.
What is PM2.5?
The PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diametre of less than 2.5 micrometres, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. Commonly written as PM2.5, particles in this category are so small that they can only be detected with an electron microscope.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2021.