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Our smog battle

In recent years, Lahore, the heart of Pakistan, has grappled with a grave environmental crisis: smog. The annual smog episode has become a recurrent nightmare, suffocating the city and its inhabitants, and posing severe threats to public health and education.

Government policies regarding smog in Lahore have seen some progress but fall short of the urgent action required. Measures such as introduction of stricter emission standards, promotion of public transportation, and awareness campaigns are steps in the right direction. However, their implementation and enforcement need significant improvement. Recent proposals for a complete shutdown on Wednesdays, as well as a work-from-home policy for two months were met with much criticism, many seeing them as barriers for businesses in a struggling economy and a poison pill for the education of students.

The impact of smog on public health is alarming. The toxic air quality during smog episodes increases the incidence of respiratory diseases, cardiovascular issues, and other health complications. Vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk. Moreover, smog adversely affects educational institutions, disrupting academic activities and hindering students’ ability to concentrate and learn effectively.

In response to the smog crisis, urgent and multifaceted actions are imperative. First and foremost, the government must invest in sustainable and efficient public transportation systems to reduce vehicular emissions. Additionally, incentivizing the adoption of clean energy sources and industries, promoting tree plantation drives, and enforcing strict regulations on crop burning and industrial emissions are crucial steps.

Education and awareness campaigns should be intensified to educate the public on the detrimental effects of air pollution and encourage collective efforts to combat smog. Schools and universities should incorporate environmental education into their curricula to foster a sense of responsibility and environmental stewardship among the youth.

The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated. Each smog episode inflicts irreparable damage to public health, the environment, and the overall quality of life in Lahore. Immediate action is needed to address this crisis effectively and prevent long-term repercussions on the well-being of the city’s residents – that does not come at the expense of students and small businesses. The crackdown needs to fall in emission-based legislation, and the provision of masks and air purifiers has become necessary in these times.

The local government needs to invest in a greener Lahore. The government, in collaboration with citizens and stakeholders, must work tirelessly to implement robust policies, educate the populace, and prioritize sustainable solutions to ensure a cleaner, healthier, and brighter future for Lahore.

Mohammad Allawal Jamal, "Our smog battle," The News. 2023-11-09.
Keywords: Environmental sciences , Environmental crisis , Environmental stewardship , Pollution , smog , Pakistan