Pakistani authorities scramble to curb rising air pollution


Air quality in the Pakistani city of Lahore has risen to dangerous levels as winter starts, leaving authorities to scramble to cope with desperate situations.

The air quality index (AQI) of the eastern city of Lahore was recorded as 397, making it the most-polluted city in the world early on Monday, according to IQAir, a global environmental think tank.

An AQI of above 300 is considered hazardous. This is not the first time that the metropolis of more than 10 million people has crossed the grim milestone.
“Stringent policy measures have been introduced to curb rising pollution,” Shazia Pervaiz, the official in charge of fighting smog in Punjab told dpa.

Authorities have introduced heavy fines for unfit vehicles, shifted hundreds of industrial units out of the city, and shut down dozens of other operations that do not comply with the directions of the environment protection department.

However, the measures did not work in previous years. Thousands of people die every year from air-pollution-related illnesses.

Industrial emissions, smoke from brick kilns and vehicles, burning of crop residue and general waste are behind air pollution and smog in Lahore.

Climate experts attribute the worsening air quality to global warming, as well as to the country’s proximity to highly industrialized China and India.

Pakistan is responsible for less than 1 per cent of global carbon emissions, but is among the top 10 most climate-vulnerable nations.

In 2019, the country launched a four-year programme to plant 10 billion trees by 2023. The project has crossed the 1-billion mark.

The country has also pledged to transition to 60 per cent clean energy and convert 30 per cent of its vehicles to electric cars by 2030.

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