Fighting smog

The Punjab government has resorted to shutting down schools and offices three days a week to combat the challenge of dense smog in Lahore. According to the officials, three-day weekend will help reduce toxic pollution levels in the provincial capital. In fact this is not a solution to the recurrent problem of smog that befalls every year in Punjab. There are many more factors that have aggravated the situation of the environment in our big cities. Massive population and vehicles growth have multiplied the volume of traffic on the roads in Lahore. The increasing commercialisation and uncontrolled encroachments are other factors in the depletion of trees. Instead of cutting trees and irrational widening of roads, the government should employ other options like introducing a mass transit system. Creating awareness about traffic rules among commuters in Lahore is also necessary. Every development step must be in the interests of the city and citizens, otherwise it is a wastage of time and resources. The city should not be deprived of greenery in the name of development. Lahore that was once called a city of gardens is now turning into a jungle of concrete and is engulfed by dense smog. The widening of roads is not a solution to end the traffic mess. Rather, it will simply postpone a bigger mess as vehicular traffic once again outstrips the confines of even the widened roads of the city.

It is pathetic to note that places with forest cover are falling victim to urban sprawl and are persistently shrinking. The trend is causing serious damage to the environment as well as the flora and fauna. An irregular growth of housing schemes is usurping all green fields leaving the environment at the mercy of smog and other pollutants. The situation might aggravate if not controlled through the safety of our environment. The government should enforce strict implementation of building code and ensure strong urban governance. Urban governance in Pakistan is already in shambles while the flood of urbanisation is putting unbearable strain on our cities with dire social and environmental consequences.

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