Adjudicating identical pleas over environmental issues, seeking court intervention to mobilize the provincial government machinery in order to protect Lahorities from ongoing smog, the Lahore High Court Thursday asked the authorities to consider closing schools from Dec 20 on account of winter vacations.
It has been reported that lung-damaging toxic smog in Lahore reached its highest level in four years and set a record of 981 near the Mall Road, air quality readings show. For months now, Lahore has been topping the list of the world’s most polluted cities as Pakistan’s second-largest city looks like one huge smokers’ lounge.
Smog is formed by a mixture of pollutants and water vapor in the atmosphere. It can cause health problems such as asthma, flu, coughing, allergies, bronchial infections, and heart problems. Environment Protection Department has been reported saying the primary contributors to air pollution include running vehicles, industrial emissions, and the burning of crop stubble.
Appearing before a single-member bench of the Lahore High Court comprising Justice Shahid Karim an official of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) submitted the higher consumption of grilled fish and bar-be-cue in the wake of chilly weather was one of the reasons for rising pollution and smog. He pointed out the issue could be resolved by curtailing markets and restaurant timings.
However, the bench rejected the suggestion and asked the authority to figure out another option to minimize smog from the vicinity while directing Punjab Advocate General Office to discuss the option of commencing winter break in schools from December 20.
The judge also ordered the relevant authorities to continue taking action against violators of traffic rules and to seal those brick kilns which failed to pay fine. It is pertinent to mention that earlier, petitioners’ counsel Azhar Siddique and Sheraz Zaka submitted that the climate change had become a great threat to human life and if the issue was not dealt on a war-footing basis, the future generations would face disastrous consequences.
It is pertinent to mention that emissions from vehicles and industries, as well as the combustion of wood and coal together with the buildup of certain weather conditions have been reported main causal agents of smog. The terminology refers to a mixture of liquid and solid fog and smoke particles. It is usually seen as yellowish or blackish fog, which remains suspended in the atmosphere or forms a ceiling in the air. It happens when fume, emissions, and particulates (nitrogen and sulfur oxides and volatile organic compounds) react in the presence of sunlight to form ground-level ozone.
The gaseous emissions are the main elements that form smog when acted upon by the sun’s ultraviolet light together with particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. Dense urban areas suffer more from smog because of huge numbers of traffic, industries and combustion of different types of fuel. Smog has serious negative effects on people, plants, and animals.
According to Wikipedia, smog is a type of air pollutant as the word smog was coined in the early 20th century as a portmanteau of the words smoke and fog to refer to smoky fog, its opacity, and odour. This kind of visible air pollution is composed of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, ozone, smoke or particulates among others. Human-made smog is derived from coal emissions, vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, forest and agricultural fires and photochemical reactions of these emissions.
Ashi Hussain is a law graduate and associated with TLTP News Wire Service as correspondent since 2020.