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LAHORE: Burning crop residues, vehicle pollution, industrial emissions, particulate matter, and metrologic elements that generate fog, which then mixes with the haze and causes smog, are just a few of the factors that contribute to smog.

As much as 43 percent of air pollution was contributed by transportation, 12 percent by power, 20 percent by agriculture and other sources, and 25 percent by industry.

These were the findings of the Environment Protection Department (EPD) regarding the air pollution issue in Punjab which were shared in a consultative session on the ‘Clean Air Policy and Action Plan’ organized by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and EPD.

The session was attended by the President LCCI Kashif Anwar, Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry, Additional Secretary EPD Samia Saleem, Director General EPD, Khuwaja Sikandar Zeeshan and other official of EPD and LCCI members.

According to LCCI President Kashif Anwar, Punjab’s smog problem is getting worse over time. The environmental difficulties have grown in Punjab, where industrial activity is booming and the number of vehicles is rising, and excessive urbanization and power generation methods are also stoking the fire. He said that in order to improve Punjab’s air quality index, combined efforts and military-style tactics are needed given the current levels of air pollution and smog.

According to President LCCI, the Environment Protection Department must immediately implement this crucial policy and action plan under the guidance of national and international experts in order to address this critical issue. In order to accomplish the desired aims, he said, it is important to establish engagement with private sector leaders.

He informed that in Punjab, the contribution of industry to air pollution is not greater than 23 percent. Instead of condemning the sector alone, he continued, “We need to give the other elements the same kind of attention.” said Kashif Anwar, who also added that the business community is aware of its responsibilities and is working to ensure that the orders from the Lahore High Court, the Water Commission, and the EPD are fully implemented.

He gave the Environment Protection Department reassurance that businesses are working tirelessly to reduce air pollution. He stated that although we are working on these, some industries are having issues, such as installing scrubbers or getting them fully operational.

The EPD official also informed the attendees regarding the work they are doing to reduce air pollution. Through a presentation they displayed their efforts and shown that according to morning data for December 5, 2022, the AQI at EPD was 430, in Sundar the AQI was recorded 349 At Punjab University it was decreased to 289, which is still unhealthy, from Badami Bagh’s 373.

Furthermore, the data analysis on June 30th revealed that a variety of vehicles, including motor cars (9.91%), motorcycles (82.25%), trucks (0.42%), delivery vans (1.42%), buses (0.54%), auto rickshaws (2.90%), tractors and others (2.56%), contributed to air pollution.

Moreover, Lahore, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad division are the most afflicted by the smog problem, despite the fact that it affects numerous divisions of Punjab and neighbouring provinces.

Between October 31 and November 28, around 2,173 vehicles, including those entering Lahore through the Saggian Area, Thokar Niaz Baig, and Ravi Toll Plaza Motorways, were inspected. Of those, 1477 received fines for emissions.

The EPD has also set up a control room to keep track of the city’s AQI around the clock. The monitoring room notifies the appropriate DCs of emission points and occurrences involving stubble burning. The PITB has also created an Application for real-time uploading of actions taken against smog-intensive areas, such as portions being sealed, FIRs filed, and fines levied.

Additionally, it assists in maintaining dashboards, geotagging actions made in the control room, and keeping track of the nine anti-smog squads deployed in Lahore.

Three teams with EPD experts and light scatters are working with the transportation department to examine late-night HTVs and establish deterrent. The important role of LWMC in dealing with fugitive dust includes the creation of a schedule, daily reporting on road washing, and water sprinkling on unpaved roads identified by ACs under DCs’ supervision. Complete prohibition of trash burning, with district administration oversight.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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