By Hamna Rehman
After visiting scenic valley of Swat of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa having clear skies and healthy air, landing in Lahore was like stepping into a brick-line. The pollution has made it unbearable to breath which is a painful specially when you just experienced a better air quality and nature in areas like Kumrat in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.
Pakistani Cultural capital Lahore, also known as Mughal city of Gardens, is assuredly worth a visit. It is a sprawling city with historical gems hidden in it. But in recent years, all these attractions of Lahore have vanished behind the intensifying climate crisis in the city due to pollution. The city famous for its gratifying and wide array of food, spectacular and colorful streets, a variety of cultures, is now suffocating the civilians. Recently, Lahore has been ranked as the world’s most polluted city with a particulate matter (PM) rating of 377, well above the hazardous level of 300, as per Air Quality Index (AQI).
The residents of the cultural city are now struggling to breathe its air. The children and elders are suffering from respiratory and other related illnesses, which are causing damage to their lungs. Civilians are investing in air purifiers. Children are not attending schools regularly. Burning eyes, sore throat, headaches, and eye irritation is common among the Lahoris, especially the children. People have begun to avoid morning strolls and other open-air activities.
The only reason why Lahore pollution is becoming a hot topic is that it is the only city in the country that has air quality monitors operating. There are incredibly high levels of air pollution throughout South Asian cities.
The toxicity in the air is due to numerous reasons and causes. Vehicular and industrial pollution along with crop burning hold their positions among the causes of air pollution. Rapid industrialization has caused the country to face intense air pollution.
Increasing air pollutants and smog have forced authorities to order a partial closure of schools in Lahore. Authorities have closed some factories and plants without scrubbers, while some were penalized for not using technology that helps in controlling pollution.
The Punjab government imposed section 144 to control smog and take action against those causing air and environmental pollution. Punjab Finance Minister, Hashim Jawan Bakht, warned that only Euro-5 petroleum products will be allowed for sale in Lahore. The officials have decided to prohibit the supply of Euro-2 fuel.
The Environmental experts have been campaigning to create awareness among people about the dangers of unhealthy air by planning workshops and panel discussions. The air-polluting vehicles must be seized right away. Public transport must be preferred instead of using multiple vehicles.
Medical and health professionals have advised citizens to wear facemasks and eye wears in open spaces and avoid an unnecessary visit to open areas to avoid any sort of respiratory disorder. Since the children are most vulnerable to toxic air, limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors. Avoid burning wood, tires, plastics, or trash.