The severity of Punjab’s smog crisis has reached a tipping point, compelling the Lahore High Court to take unprecedented actions. The recent directive to close educational institutions on Saturdays until the end of January is not just a disruption of routine; it underscores the urgency of tackling the hazardous smog engulfing the region.
In Lahore, where the Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded 293, categorising it as unhealthy, the smog crisis has become an impending public health emergency. The detrimental impact of smog on public life, health issues, flight delays, and accidents has become a grim reality in Punjab. The Lahore High Court’s decision is a response to the escalating crisis, aiming to mitigate the health risks associated with hazardous pollution levels.
Despite prior measures like face mask mandates and limited lockdowns struggling to break the impasse, the negligible impact on air quality necessitated the Lahore High Court’s decision to safeguard public health. The court’s recent emphasis on work-from-home arrangements and scrutiny of government departments and industrial units reflects a comprehensive and proactive approach, demonstrating a commitment to protecting citizens from the multifaceted challenges posed by environmental degradation.
The Lahore High Court’s proactive decision, in line with the Punjab government’s recent mandate for face masks in 10 smog-affected districts, signifies a departure from business as usual. Heavy smog, impacting visibility and causing sore eyes and breathing difficulties, has prompted collective measures. The court’s understanding of the smog crisis’s complex origins, peaking between October and February due to crop residue burning, underscores its proactive stance. This prevalent practice, notably in Indian Punjab, significantly contributes to hazardous particles in the air, affecting Lahore and causing health issues during the smog season. The court’s directive to close educational institutions aligns with a broader strategy to address the crisis comprehensively. By incorporating work-from-home arrangements and scrutinising industrial units, the court acknowledges that smog is not just a seasonal inconvenience but a pervasive threat that demands year-round attention.
The comprehensive approach, encompassing educational institutions, work-from-home measures, and industrial scrutiny, marks a departure from reactive measures. This proactive stance, coupled with collective efforts, will be instrumental in navigating the multifaceted challenges posed by environmental degradation and ensuring the well-being of Punjab’s residents.