Hearing petitions seeking directives for the government to take steps to control smog, the Lahore High Court on Friday ordered the traffic police to impose Rs2,000 as fine on all those found violating one-way traffic rule, and sought a clear road management plan
Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC passed the order, giving a week’s time for preparation of a road management plan in a bid to control smog.
“It is a perplexing situation that the environment minister, instead of realising the [gravity of the] situation, went into self-denial through issuance of absurd circulars,” Justice Shahid remarked.
His remarks came after Punjab Minister for Environment Muhammad Rizwan said, “During the smog season, some unscrupulous elements with mala fide intentions are trying to damage the image of Pakistan by reporting … false readings of air quality index (AQI) from different unauthorised sources in Lahore, (carried) in the print and electronic media, contrary to the information by EPD Punjab.” The minister had also recommended strict action against all those sharing data of AQI on social media and Internet without seeking approval of the EPA.
“Any person, company issuing data on social media and Internet without approval of EPA should be closed down and action be taken under cyber laws,” read the notification-a copy of which is available with MinuteMirror. The notification also read, “It would be appreciated if necessary action is taken against delinquents accordingly.”
During the proceedings, Justice Shahid directed Lahore Mayor Col (r) Mubashir Javed to appear in person to inform the court to what extent the local government was empowered to take steps to curb smog.
Advocate Sheraz Zaka, Advocate Suleman Niazi and Advocate Azhar Siddique had moved petitions seeking directives for the Punjab government to take measures to control smog. Representing the petitioner, Advocate Sheraz argued that had there been an effective local government, a lot of remedial measures would have been effectively implemented. The counsel argued that Lahore became the most polluted city and it was also due to the fact that the local government had been bereft of their powers by the Punjab government.
Lahore Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Muntazir Mehdi, was also present there, who informed the court that 93 applications had been written for removal of encroachments but to no avail. The CTO said that smog was a bigger issue than coronavirus and dengue.
At this, Justice Shahid directed the Punjab government to constitute a committee to deal with smog.
“Signal-free corridor is a bad idea that is creating trouble, as the commuters cannot cross the road,” Justice Shahid remarked. The court was informed that the CTO might be transferred despite the fact that he was performing well.
At this, the court barred his transfer and directed the CTO to take steps and remove barriers for smooth flow of traffic in Lahore in order to thwart traffic congestions that contributed to smoke and then to smog.
The court also issued a notice to the Punjab government to submit a reply on a petition moved by Advocate Aftab Virk seeking two-week lockdown in the most affected areas of Punjab, and put off further hearing until November 23.