Measures to apply from Nov. 27 till Jan. 15, 2022 with an aim at mitigating the health hazards posed by poor air quality
The Punjab government on Monday ordered all private offices and educational institutions in provincial capital Lahore to remain shut on Mondays in addition to the weekly Saturday and Sunday holidays in a bid to curb the smog that has resulted in hazardous levels of air quality for several weeks.
In a notification, Punjab Relief Commissioner Babar Hayat Tarar said the measures, which would be applicable from Nov. 27 till Jan. 15, 2022, would act as a “preventive and speedy remedy” to the threat of smog, which poses risks to public safety. It noted that “persistent deterioration in Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city of Lahore, fluctuating from satisfactory to poor levels, which is likely to cause breathing discomfort, respiratory tract diseases and heart diseases” was a major reason behind the decision.
The AQI value is a measure of air quality under which lower values indicate healthy air and high values warn of potential health hazards. According to the World Health Organization, AQI values at or below 100 are considered “satisfactory,” while higher values range from “unhealthy” to “hazardous.”
Lahore regularly tops the global list of cities with the most polluted air, often posting “hazardous” air quality values, according to WHO. On Tuesday, it posted an average AQI of 200 in the afternoon.
The latest smog mitigation measure follows an earlier Punjab government notification that had directed all private sector companies to maintain 50 percent attendance in their offices “until further notice” in a bid to reduce vehicular emissions caused by daily commuters.
Smog is a form of pollution that occurs when smoke and dust mix with fog. It has become an annual occurrence in urban centers across Pakistan with the onset of winter, but Punjab capital Lahore often experiences the worst of it due to vehicular emissions; unregulated construction activity and stubble burning by farmers who are clearing their fields ahead of planting wheat.