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LAHORE: Chief Secretary Punjab Abdullah Khan Sumbal has directed all the deputy commissioners to strictly implement the ban on burning of crop residue and garbage under Section 144 and mobilize the revenue department’s staff in the field.

He gave this directive on Tuesday at the Civil Secretariat during a meeting to review the measures being taken to control smog in the province.

It was decided that all the departments would obtain certificates for government vehicles under Vehicle Inspection and Certification System (VICS) and the central control room established in the environment department would be made fully functional from October 12. The focal persons of environment, agriculture, industries, and other relevant departments would perform duties in this control room.

Chief Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal directed the authorities to intensify the crackdown on vehicles and industries that are causing environmental pollution, saying that only brick kilns with zigzag technology would be allowed to operate. He mentioned that the role of deputy commissioners is instrumental in controlling the smog problem and the performance in this regard would be reviewed regularly.

Sumbal asked the environment department to provide timely information to the deputy commissioners for action against those who burn crop residue.

He stressed that the relevant provincial departments and field officers should increase mutual coordination. He said that everyone including government institutions and civil society should work collectively to overcome the smog. The Chief Secretary also issued instructions to the agriculture department to improve the data collection system.

Secretary Industries Dr Ahmad Javed Qazi gave a detailed briefing at the meeting. He said that seven anti-smog squads had been formed for the inspection of industrial units. Of these seven squads, three are working in Lahore while one each is in Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, and Multan. The authorities sealed 428 old-technology brick kilns, registered 226 cases, and imposed fines of about Rs 10 million.

Two special squads are working in Lahore for checking smoke-emitting vehicles. Police registered 11 FIRs for burning crop residue in different cities- seven in Pakpattan, two in Chiniot, and one each in Okara and Khanewal. The authorities arrested nine persons for burning garbage, registered 72 FIRs, and imposed fines of Rs 3.7 million. The administrative secretaries of various departments, the deputy commissioner of Lahore, and officers concerned attended the meeting while the deputy commissioners of Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, and Narowal participated through video link.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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