Smog blanketed several areas of Lahore for the second day on Thursday as the metropolis figured in the list of the most polluted cities of the world.
As smog covered various industrial and polluted areas, the rush at the hospitals increased due to related diseases.
According to environmental experts, construction work across the city, burning of tires and tubes in factories and the failure of the traffic police to remove substandard vehicles from the roads are the main reasons of smog in Lahore.
Ineffective efforts and mismanagement on the part of the government departments responsible to handle the adverse factors have resulted in another worse spell of smog in the area this year.
The environmentalists said the provincial government should announce a strategy to curb smog.
Several parts of the city have been in the grip of smog for the past two days, including Ravi Road, Manawan, Darogha Wala, Nashtar Town, Shahdara and Thokar Niaz Baig.
Residents of the affected areas said there had been no improvement in the situation and the plight of the citizens as compared to last year because of the steps taken by the authorities concerned.
The worst effects are experienced in the morning hours. Residents are exposed to dense smog while going to schools and offices from their homes.
Doctors say schoolchildren and elderly people are proving to be the most vulnerable with a large number of them suffering from cough, eye diseases and breathing problems.
The situation in connection with smog was normal earlier this week due to light preceded a few earlier by heavier rainfall.
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The rain spells had provided environmental relief to the public and also given time to the departments concerned to take steps to prevent the smog, but to no avail.
The government had prepared a plan three weeks back to keep schools and markets in the city shut for a day during the week to curb smog.
However, the decision was reviewed after rains lasting three days in Lahore and other parts of Punjab.
However, smog has now returned to the city.
Lahore has been among the five most polluted cities of the world during the past week, indicating a high risk to the health of the citizens.
A senior official of the Punjab Emviornment Department said it was alarming that Lahore was among the most polluted cities of the world. He said air quality monitors of international agencies had revealed that the Air Quality Index in Lahore had crossed 300.
The air pollution level at Mall Road, Lahore Canal, Gulberg and Polo Ground rose to around 350.
He said the the local authorities appeared to be using unreliable data to support their claim that the situation in connection with the air pollution was normal.
He said the authorities given the task to handle the smog situation, including the environment, traffic, police and transport departments, had failed to fulfill their responsibilities.
The official said around 45 per cent of the air pollution was due to substandard vehicles in the city. He said a number of factories had not stopped burning tires and tubes to generate energy.
The smog situation was critical around the city, especially at its entry and exit points due to the rush of traffic. This is the reason that the areas of Ravi Road, Thokar Niaz Baig and Kasur are facing dense smog.
Construction of the Shahdara and Imamia Colony flyovers in Lahore is also a big contributor to smog in the adjoining areas.
The official said the government should immediately complete the construction or stop it during the smog season.
Punjab Environment Protection Department Deputy Director Farooq Alam said the Air Quality Index level of 180 was recorded at Canal Road, 163 at Punjab University Earth and Environmental Sciences Department and 131 Lahore-Faisalbad bypass road.
He said traffic and cold weather were the reasons for the smog in Lahore.
Punjab University Geography Department Director Professor Munawar Sabir said smog could not be overcome with traditional measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th2023.