In notification, provincial government directs private offices to implement 50% attendance ‘until further notice’ and reduces by half official vehicles plying roads
The Punjab government on Friday introduced a series of measures designed to reduce pollution and curb the province’s worsening smog situation, including ordering private sector companies in Lahore to operate at 50% attendance “till further notice.”
A day earlier, the Lahore High Court had directed the provincial government to announce a 50% attendance policy for private offices in a bid to curb smog. It had rejected a proposal by authorities to shut down schools in areas affected by smog, maintaining that traffic reduction measures be undertaken. In a meeting on Friday, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said the provincial government was declaring smog a “calamity” and directed authorities to display zero tolerance for any activities adding to its prevalence.
Lahore, in recent weeks, had regularly ranked among the most polluted cities in the world. On Saturday, it reported an Air Quality Index of 333, which the World Health Organization classifies as “hazardous.”
According to a notification issued by the Punjab Disaster Management Authority, the following measures are being implemented until further notice:
- Ban on burning of any type of crop residue
- Ban on vehicles emitting visible smoke and pollutants falling into inadmissible limits
- Ban on industries that contribute to the deterioration of the Air Quality Index
- Ban on stone crushers operating without wet scrubbers
- Ban on burning of all types of solid waste, tyres, rubber, and plastics
- Ban on the sale and use of all types of substandard fuels
- Ban on encroachments that cause hindrance in the smooth flow of traffic on public roads
- Ban on parking that hinders smooth flow of traffic
- Ban on all types of activities that generate dust
- Ban on uncovered and open dumping/storage of construction material
- Ban on uncovered transportation of construction materials like sand, mud, and cement
- Ban on any unauthorized activity that might cause pollution
According to the notification, any individuals found violating any of the ban orders would be charged under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code. It also directs all administrative secretaries of the Punjab government to reduce the number of official vehicles on roads by 50 percent from Nov. 25. 2021 to Jan. 15, 2022.
The notification also directs the School Education Department and the Higher Education Department to ensure that all public and private educational institutions increase the use of buses/vans by 50 percent for students to reduce the number of cars on the roads.
The following fines have also been announced in the notification:
- 50,000 ban for burning of crop residue and municipal residue
- 50,000-100,000 fine for brick kilns not on zig-zag methodology or emitting black smoke
- 2,000 fine for public and private transport emitting pollution
- 50,000-100,000 fine for industrial units without emission control equipment/devices
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.