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LAHORE: As many as 100 air quality monitoring stations are required to get actual pollution data and carry out precautionary measures for a mega city like Lahore, said Director Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) Shahid Abbas.

Talking to Business Recorder, he said the environment protection department does not have sufficient number of stations, a situation that leaves them to carry out guess work while mixing the data of both peak and off-peak hours. At present, he added, the average air quality data is being supplied by the environment protection department, carrying multiple discrepancies.

It may be noted that the Punjab government has last week directed the environment protection department to share data with meteorological department on daily basis for the release of next 48 hours air quality forecast by the later. A meeting between the two sides was held on Tuesday to discuss modalities for future cooperation.

When contacted, Deputy Director Lab of the Environment Department Farooq Adil said there are six air quality monitoring stations installed in the city on different locations including Wagha border, head office of the department, met office, Township Industrial Area, Town Hall, and a mobile van. Among them, he said, only the last three facilities are functional.

According to him, the finance department provides Rs 40,000 per annum for repair and maintenance of these stations which is already consumed. Meanwhile, a request for release of Rs 54000 has been made for procurement of filter tape used for the analyzer, he added.

It may be noted that the cost of a new station ranges between Rs50-70 million, manufactured either in European countries or the USA. Now, China has also started producing them.

Meanwhile, well-placed sources in the provincial disaster management authority have pointed out that the World Bank has approved Rs9 billion projects for the environment protection department but the recruitment process is too slow that no tangible development could take place over the last two years. They said the federal government has also released funds for procurement of some 30 air quality monitoring stations but the concerned authorities are delaying it due to the fear of National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Already, they said, some seven officers of the environment department had faced inquiries and termination from service after a complaint filed against procurement of earlier six stations back in 90s. Finally, it took them some 10 years to get reinstated from the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

This scribe tried to reach both the secretary and director general of the environment department but the former was out of office for a meeting while the latter was busy in office meetings.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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