Smog control in Punjab demands control in indigenous pollution

ISLAMABAD, Nov 17 (APP): The sixth season of Smog in Punjab had once again gripped the most polluted city of the country and number second in the world Lahore with 186 US Air Quality Index (AQI).

An Environmental Protection Department of Punjab official told APP that other than the transboundary pollution from India there were certain pollution factors at the local level which required to serious attention.

The stubble burning in the eastern Punjab of India was not that much in Pakistan as it had been only carried out in certain districts across the province, he added.

“In Rawalpindi Division, there is no issue of crop stubble burning rather two major factors of pollution are stone crushing units and brick kilns. Faisalabad alone has 450 textile mills and various other industrial units operating in the district that put pressure on the environment and air quality. Similarly, Sialkot with its huge number of tanneries and sports manufacturing units have increased the hazardous emissions that contribute to the overall smog impact in the region,” he added.

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To a question, he said there were four mega industrial units in Rawalpindi district namely Attock Oil Refinery, Kohinoor Mills, Askari Cement and Murree Brewery.

“All these units have installed scrubbers to collect dark carbon and avoid hazardous emissions whereas Askari Cement has dust emissions problem during shut down and initiation process,” he added.

He said open garbage burning after vehicular emissions and stubble burning was the major cause of smog in the province. “There is section 144 imposed in Rawalpindi district on the directives of the Punjab government on the burning of crop residue, solid municipal waste, and other plastic and leather items in the winter. But due to lack of surveillance and proper monitoring mechanism it is impossible to charge the true culprit if found burning garbage openly,” the EPD official noted.

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Earlier Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul had refuted Lahore being among the topmost polluted cities of the world.

In her video message shared on her twitter handle, she said, “Google maps clearly indicate that total air pollution existing in the region comprised of 80 percent area of India and only 20 percent of the pollution is indicated in Pakistan’s territory.”

According to AirVisual, US Air Quality Index (AQI) of Lahore was 228 which 177.7 microgrammes per meter cube of particulate matter of 2.5 microns in the air and the EPD data showed US AQI164. It was reported to be unhealthy for people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children most at risk and should avoid any outdoor activity; everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.

US AQI of Islamabad was 190 which was 130.8 microgrammes per meter cube of particulate matter of 2.5 microns in the air. However, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency data showed 44.11microgrammes per meter cube of particulate matter of 2.5 microns in the air. The overall ambient air quality was unhealthy in the federal capital.

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