- Chief minister says Lahore now the 'worst smog-hit city' in the world
Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi announced on Tuesday that smog-hit districts of the province would observe a four-day holiday, Aaj News reported.
The holidays will be from Thursday (Iqbal Day) through Sunday, he said.
“Today, we will notify business holiday for offices and schools on November 10 in Lahore division, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Kasur, Nankana Sahib districts, and Hafizabad while November 9 has already been declared a public holiday,” CM Naqvi said in a press conference.
He went on to add that restaurants and cinemas will be closed from Friday till Sunday along with all kinds of parks during the three days of the week.
However, bakeries, pharmacies, and marriage lawns will remain open.
Last week, the Lahore High Court directed the caretaker government of Punjab to impose smog emergency in the provincial metropolis due to constantly hazardous air quality index immediately.
In a related development earlier, Commissioner Lahore Muhammad Ali Randhawa said cycling lanes and parking stands should be constructed on important parts of Mall Road, Canal Bank Road, Jail Road, Main Boulevard Gulberg and Ferozepur Road.
IQ Air has reported alarming Air Quality Index (AQI) readings for Lahore. Lahore’s reading was an astounding 374, while Multan’s was a worrisome 442. Unhealthy AQI readings were also reported by Pindi Bhattian and Rawalpindi.
Sensitive groups are defined as those with an AQI between 101 and 150 as unhealthy; 151 to 200 as unhealthy; 201 to 300 as very unhealthy; and 301 to 500 as dangerous.
The chief minister said Lahore was now the “worst smog-hit city” in the world during his earlier press conference.
He mentioned that complaints of children experiencing respiratory difficulties and eye infections had been made.
Schools are already closed on Saturdays and Sundays, according to Naqvi, but if they are open on this Saturday as well, they will be asked to stay closed.
According to CM Naqvi, markets would shutter on Saturdays. “If merchants believe it is practical, they may also close on Fridays,” he added.
“This is my appeal to the people,” Naqvi said.
“Masks should be worn by everyone, but especially by children and the elderly,” the CM continued, clarifying that they were not closing factories.
Punjab chief minister blamed the deteriorating air quality on neighboring India.
Claiming that “Indians burn more crop residue than Pakistan,” he said: “Definitely, as we are on the border, the burning of crop residue has an effect on us.”