It is a good piece of news for citizens of Lahore that the Lahore High Court has banned the felling of trees to counter the ever-increasing pollution coupled with smog. Unfortunately, our cities are passing through dangerous levels of air pollution and they are counted among the most polluted places in the world in terms of their air quality. The increasing level of pollution and poor air quality owe their existence to a number of factors like increasing urbanisation, industrial growth, commercialization and deforestation. Due to urban growth, cities are being converted into ‘gas chambers’ while the population is facing the mounting pollution problem. It is a sharp warning to the government that growth and development at the cost of environment can bring devastating consequences for human life. Air pollution is also being caused by traffic, industries and burning of crop and solid waste, which are major contributors to smog. The prevailing smog in Lahore is causing various respiratory diseases among citizens. Already, thick smog is playing havoc with the health of citizens as cases of respiratory illness are increasing in the provincial capital due to high volumes of poisonous particles in the atmosphere. Serious health concerns for the inhabitants due to toxic pollution include premature deaths, heart disease and respiratory problems among others.
One of the most pervasive forms of pollution in the country is the growing number of cars on the roads, most without catalytic converters and increasing urbanization in the form of housing societies everywhere. Due to urban growth phenomenon, the cities are being converted into a smog chamber. The government can reduce the level of pollution by planting more and more trees in various parts of the city while the parliament needs to pass a clean air act covering all issues related to the environmental degradation and its improvement. Although Prime Minister Imran Khan is focusing on environment and his government has adopted a green policy programme to tackle environmental degradation, yet efforts need to be done at individual level for ending this misery. At the same time, the actual source of pollution needs long term measures on part of the authorities concerned. It is responsibility of the incumbent government to avert the environment related crisis and take necessary measures to provide conducive environment to citizens. The government needs to rely more on non-polluting renewable energy to meet its deficit. The government needs to realise that it has to incrementally cut its dependence on fossil fuels and utilise new green technology to mitigate the bad effects of using coal for producing energy. Besides, a policy needs to be introduced to check the mushroom growth of public vehicles and take necessary measures to check pollution before it gets out of control. Hopefully, Pakistan will launch environmental initiatives and rid its citizens of the ills of pollution.