Tuesday, May 28

Smog: A grey Future

Lahore and many other cities of Punjab barely breathe under this thick blanket of smog that

descends upon the city every winter since November 2016. For the past years, the second

most populated city of Pakistan seems to be residing in a smoker’s lounge with the citizens

immersed in soot.

The heart of Pakistan is especially suffering due to the soot, smoke, and industrial pollutants

present in the air, which from the onset of winters combine with fog to produce this deadly

outcome known to all as Smog. The infinite growth of mechanization and industrialization,

vehicular exhaust, and the burning of domestic and agricultural waste has rewarded the

people of Lahore with this poisonous atmosphere. Lack of trees, continuous deforestation,

and the use of cheap fuels in agricultural equipment has also led to this highly toxic

environment.

Smog has become a typical issue for the 11 million residents of Lahore who have to endure it

to complete their daily tasks. Lahore’s air quality has been declared as one of the most toxic

in the world at 192 AQI (Data from 2021). The smog in Lahore impacts the residents in a

deep perilous way by putting the people at high risk of lung diseases. The senior citizens of

Lahore are living a life of discomfort as smog adds to their already present heart and lung

issues. An outbreak of diseases has occurred such as asthma, skin, and ENT allergies which

are affecting both the youth and the elderly. If not checked, smog may leave irreversible

consequences on the population.

Smog is a recurring contamination that the people and government of Pakistan have to face

until continuous and efficient efforts are done to reduce this haze. The government needs to

set up strict laws for these environmental issues and hazards. Identifying and eliminating sources of air pollution such as exhaust gases is a necessary step that needs to be taken before others to get a fruitful result. Certain modifications are needed to minimise pollution while keeping everything in order. Introducing carbon absorbers, condensers, and purifiers on wide level and promoting the sale of these products by providing them at subsidized rates

will be a constructive course of action. Promoting recycling and reusing, setting up recycling

factories, and using recycled materials on a large scale will be an initiative that will lead to

the elimination of any further problems.

Although blames on India for air pollution and complete denial of the matter have been on

the news for long but now the government has started to be cognizant of the fact that

immediate measures might be the long-term solution to smog. The past government of

Pakistan has paid heed to the issue by initiating the Billion Trees Project which has been

executed successfully but is still under process. According to government officials 1.5 billion

trees have been planted yet. The Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) announced a revised

Pakistan Clean Air Plan (PCAP) on The World Environment Day 2021; the plan funded

technical assistance on strengthening knowledge and actions for air quality improvements

alongside various measures to prohibit the emission of harmful gases from vehicles,

industries, etc. The plan further addressed the banning of 2-stroke vehicles (motorcycles),

which consume more fuel than 4-stroke vehicles consequently producing an increased

amount of carbon emissions in the air, from major cities of Pakistan such as Lahore. The plan

was approved by the council but bringing about this large shift in vehicles keeping in mind he

financial situation of the people that use 2-stroke vehicles was a bit of a challenge for the

MOCC.

A long-term, sustainable solution will require a massive switch in government policies with

the private sector playing its part too. The private sector needs to shift to more environment-friendly policies and equipment. A massive switch, initiated by private companies, to

renewable energy sources such as operating solar panels will be a successful turn of events

that will reduce the use of fuels hence decreasing air pollution. Influential companies that are

popular among teens such as the numerous clothing brands eg Outfitters, Khaadi, etc. if they

start holding awareness campaigns about a healthier atmosphere by manufacturing products

promoting a greener environment then a larger audience can get mindful of the bleak future

that might descend upon us if it is not checked now. The private sector can also finance

research and academic partnerships to enhance technologies and equipment which are used

to prevent air pollution such as carbon absorbers and catalytic converters.

All these measures if done efficaciously will improve the air quality and the health of the

citizens. If further procrastination is done on the matter this cultural capital of Pakistan and

its inhabitants will likely suffer more than anticipated.

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