A thick blanket of toxic black smog engulfed the entire metropolitan of Lahore forcing many residents to either literally gasp for breath or complain about sore throats and watery eyes.
Smog, together with a gusty storm, had made driving any kind of vehicle virtually impossible. While it was a Herculean task for the drivers to look forward through the windscreens of their vehicles, their wipers lacked the capacity to clear smog.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday announced the government’s initiative to take notable steps to counter air pollution in the country.
The announcement came after a meeting was chaired earlier in the day by the prime minister and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar related to smog and environmental crisis in Lahore.
The government’s anti-air pollution are listed below:
- The oil that meets the EU’s Euro-4 emission standard will now be imported. By the end of 2020, a shift will be made to oil that meets the Euro-5 emission standard.
- Oil refineries will be given a three-year warning period to improve the quality of oil produced. If they fail, they will be shut down.
- The auto industry will be asked to shift towards electric vehicles. All buses will either be hybrid, electric or CNG-based.
- Imported machinery will assist farmers to make use of the post-harvest rice crop, rather than burn it.
- Brick kilns will be given financial aid to use zigzag technology which is environmentally friendly.
- Import duties on scrubbers will be removed so air pollution from steel factories can be curbed.
- An urban forestry initiative in Lahore will see tree plantation over 60,000 kanals of land.
PM Khan mentioned that Lahore is not the only city facing high levels of environmental crisis. “It is an issue in Karachi, in Peshawar, in Pindi. This issue (of pollution) will greatly affect our future generations if we do not take steps to combat it today,” the premier said.
“Pollution is a silent killer, unlike when you witness an accident or a murder. And it is very dangerous,” he added, regretting that Pakistan has now reached the top in the list of the most polluted countries.
The 20 countries with the most polluted urban areas include Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Mongolia, Kuwait, Nepal, UAE, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, Uganda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kosovo, and Kazakhstan.
The 20 countries with the least polluted urban areas include Iceland, Finland, Australia, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, UK, Malta, Luxembourg, Russia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Japan, and Germany.