The smog levels and air pollution in and around Lahore have caused massive havoc for the citizens of the metropolis, and unfortunately, it seems the situation is only getting worse by day. Now, the residents of the former Mughal capital have had enough, and this is what we all have to say!
The air pollution in and around Lahore is an apocalyptic public health emergency and shows no signs of improving. Air pollution is lethal, devastates the health of millions and violates other fundamental rights, such as the right to education when children cannot go to school. Recently, Lahore has topped the list of most polluted cities in the world. This is only getting worse and proving that the hope to change all of this is becoming bleaker.
According to the Air Quality Life Index developed by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago, the life expectancy of the Lahoris is reduced by a shocking 5 years on account of air pollution. This is beyond alarming and equates to a criminal offence. The rising health issues are now visible around the city as well. If the ongoing COVID-19 situation had not already brought hospitals to their capacity, the rise in smog-related illnesses is making ambulatory care impossible for those in need.
Looking at this alarming condition, which is a violation of the Right to Life it needs to be addressed as soon as possible! There is a misunderstanding that smog is a “seasonal” issue. It is not. Lahore produces the same amount of pollution year-round with the only difference being in the winter months when falling temperatures make the haze more visible. Improving air quality therefore will require year-round efforts such as upgrading fuel quality standards for motor vehicles, installing pollution control devices in the industry, transitioning to renewable energy and redesigning our cities to be more sustainable and public-transport friendly. At the same time, our healthcare system needs to be robust enough to respond to the threats of air pollution.
The Lack of Implementation of Law
The Government of Punjab adopted a Policy on Controlling Smog in 2017 and formulated the Punjab Clean Air Action Plan in 2018, yet it is nowhere to be seen when it comes to implementing it. Similarly, The World Bank’s Green Development Program has hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance the capacity of the EPA, Punjab. However, despite these policies and finances, no action has been taken and the failure to implement them has resulted in the toxic air in and around Lahore. The lack of interest has only caused the situation to worsen, and there’s a possibility we have already caused irreparable loss to the environment of Lahore.
We urge the Honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, to please instruct all concerned to convene a meeting of the Punjab Environment Protection Council and to implement the policies and action plans without further delay. Instantaneous measures must be taken with immediate effect to implement rules and regulations to improve the air quality in Lahore.
This article has been written in the interest of all citizens of Lahore – those who realise and those who don’t – about what is happening to all of us in the metropolis and the impending doom we’re heading towards if instant action isn’t taken.