Mohsin Naqvi says, “It is our collective responsibility to prioritize health. Please follow the guidelines for a safe community.”
- Punjab Chief Minister urged citizens to follow the guidelines.
- Citizens were ordered to wear masks when going out.
- Punjab has planned to make artificial rain in Lahore.
To combat the deteriorating quality of life in Punjab, the caretaker government on Sunday made it mandatory for all citizens in the smog-affected districts of the province to wear face masks for a week.
“It is our collective responsibility to prioritize health. Please follow the guidelines for a safe community,” Punjab’s caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, formerly of X, said in a post on Twitter.
The notification shared by the Health Services Department of Punjab said that high levels of Air Quality Index (AQI) due to SMOG is a serious and imminent threat to public health across all age groups.
The government urged all citizens to take all possible safety measures to prevent and control airborne diseases in the Punjab province.
Primary and Secondary Health Services Department Secretary Ali Jan Khan said that, with the approval of the Chief Minister, all citizens have been ordered to wear face masks during all types of outdoor activities.
“The above order will be implemented in the areas of Lahore Division (District Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur) and Gujranwala Division (District Gujranwala, Gujarat, Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahuddin) having the highest Air Quality Index (AQI). , for the next one week i.e., from November 20, 2023 to November 26, 202,” the notification said.
A day earlier, the government had said it was planning to introduce artificial rain in the provincial capital later this month.
Provincial Environment Minister Bilal Afzal said that a team and working group should be formed to provide artificial rain which will consult on providing aircraft to provide artificial rain.
Punjab’s districts including Lahore Jhang, Hafizabad, Khanewal, Nankana, Bahawalnagar and Sheikhupura are facing the worst air pollution.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court has ordered authorities to close all schools and colleges in smog-affected districts on Saturday. The court also directed the government to implement the policy of working from home two days a week.
Why is pollution worse in South Asia than other places?
The countries of South Asia have seen significant increases in industrialization, economic development and population growth over the past two decades, leading to increased demand for energy and fossil fuels.
While sources such as industry and vehicles affect most countries, some major contributions are unique to South Asia, including solid fuel combustion for cooking and heating, human cremation, and agricultural waste burning.
For example, about 38% of the pollution in New Delhi this year has been caused by stubble burning in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana – a practice in which the stubble left after paddy harvesting is burned to clear the fields.
Along with the development of the area, the increase in the number of vehicles on the roads has also increased the problem of pollution. For example, in India and Pakistan, the number of vehicles has increased fourfold since the early 2000s.
According to government data, New Delhi, which has been ranked the world’s most polluted capital for four consecutive years by Swiss group IQAir, has 472 vehicles per thousand of population, and about eight million vehicles on its roads by 2022 .