The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday ordered the Punjab government to impose a smog
emergency in the province ahead of the winter season and install air quality monitoring systems within two weeks.
Justice Shahid Jamil passed these orders while hearing the petition of Haroon Farooq who maintained that the government was not taking action to deal with the menace of smog.
“Call an emergency meeting today evening or tomorrow to take precautions measures before the cold weather grips the province,” the court ordered the authorities concerned, and remarked that Lahore had become the most polluted city in the world for the week.
“The air pollution of the city has reached an alarming level which has been declared hazardous for human health,” the court observed and remarked that vehicles and industries involved in contributing to the smog should be banned. “Take immediate action against those involved in stubble burning in the province,” the court remarked, and said, “The measures to eradicate smog should be finalized and a team should immediately be constituted to take action against those responsible.”
The court also directed the authorities to provide vehicles to the inspection teams and if this was not ensured then the vehicles of the chief secretary’s (CS) office would be given to them.
Moreover, the LHC also showed its concern over the unavailability of air quality monitoring systems with the departments concerned. “Make it possible to procure the air quality monitoring equipment within two weeks,” the court ordered and directed the Planning and Development (P&D) Department to release funds within a week.
Later, the court adjourned the case until October 14 and ordered an implementation report for the next hearing.
It is worth mentioning here that despite several court directions and concerns of different quarters, the Punjab government couldn’t update the air quality monitoring system in the province.
The major responsible authority in this regard, the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to update its air quality monitoring system.
Interestingly, such directions of the court for the installation of air quality measuring equipment did not come for the first time, and since 2016, every year before the start of the winter season, such rulings have been passed by the court.