And no one seems to care. The season of smog hits Lahore and its suburbs every year in November, making it difficult to breathe. And unfortunately, it has only gotten worse with each passing year over the last 6-7 years. This year, the throat-searing blanket of smog has hit Punjab’s capital again and much viciously – sending at least 12,000 citizens to the public hospitals during the month.
Every year, the air quality around Lahore dips due to stubble burning ahead of the winters. The seasonal fires add to the air pollutants, industrial wastes and vehicular emissions along with the falling temperatures, and the concoction reaches hazardous levels.
The situation is the same on the other side of the border in India, but Lahore continues to be the world’s most polluted city in the world, and Pakistan among the most polluted countries around the globe. And It’s not just the ongoing smog in the planes of Punjab, millions of Pakistanis are breathing in the world’s toxic air throughout the year as Lahore continues to stay among cities with the worst air pollution. This can be seen from the city’s continuous top ranking on the Air Visual’s Air Quality Index (AQI), where higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and health concern.
The irony is that there have been no efforts in addressing the issue of smog – all efforts are ad hoc and temporary without any thought and policy for the next year. Fining a couple of brick kilns, shutting schools every year for a few days, temporary vehicle fitness checks will not do the needful. = Unplanned, random and inconclusive restrictions, bans and steps taken to address the situation in the coming months is not what will help solve the calamity. There is a need for empowerment and accountability of district level bodies and local government and comprehensive yet accommodative agricultural, industrial, transport and urban planning polices for combating the the menace of smog in winters, and compromised air quality throughout the year.