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Smog: Punjab declares environmental emergency

CM approves increase in the daily quota of wheat for the province

On the direction of Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, an environmental emergency has been imposed across the province to deal with the hazards of smog.

While presiding over a high-level meeting smog prevention, the CM disclosed that the penalties are being enhanced for the institutions that cause environmental pollution and for the farmers as well who burn crops. The farmers will be provided with modern harvester namely “Hepper Seed” to dispose of crop residues. Chief Minister Parvez Elahi said that electric buses will be run in big cities with the support of the World Bank. Loans of one billion rupees will be given to industries at low-interest rates to adopt “clear technology”.

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CM Elahi ordered that all brick kilns will be switched to zigzag technology. CM directed that the environment, agriculture, industries and transport departments should conduct an anti-smog campaign continuously for three months and consultation of the civil society should also be incorporated in the endeavours to eliminate environmental pollution. The CM further directed that all the Deputy Commissioners should take vigorous action to eradicate the practice of crop burning adding that regular monitoring should be continued through the monitoring teams and the implementation on the penalty of two lakh rupees for burning crops should be ensured.

Chief Minister Parvez Elahi regretted that due to the lack of control over the burning of crop residues in Indian Punjab, Pakistan dearly suffers in the form of smog. The CM was apprised during the briefing that environmental pollution is being monitored in Lahore through 10 air quality monitors; 1,816 FIRs have been registered in Punjab for taking preventive steps that cause environmental pollution. Crackdown has also been launched against 90 industrial units spreading environmental pollution in Lahore. Action has also been taken at 6,457 places on spreading pollution by burning crops across the province.

The CM directed that more effective steps should be taken for the elimination of smog across the province, the monitoring system should be made pro-active and stern action should be taken on its violation. Chief Secretary, IG Police, Principal Secretary to CM Muhammad Khan Bhatti, Secretaries of industries, environment, agriculture and law departments, Advocate General and other concerned officials attended the meeting.

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Also, the first meeting of the Cabinet Standing Committee on Wheat was held in the Chief Minister’s Office under the chair of Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, in which the existing reserves of wheat and the requirements were reviewed. In the meeting, a decision was taken to increase the daily quota of wheat in Punjab. Chief Minister Parvez Elahi approved increasing the quota of wheat. The Chief Minister directed the start of vigorous awareness campaigns to use high-yielding seeds and said that in this regard, an effective campaign should be run for the awareness of the farmers.

He said that Punjab will be made self-sufficient in wheat production. “When I left the post of chief minister in 2008, the food department had no debt. During my previous tenure, Punjab was a surplus province. Due to the incompetence of the PML-N government, the debt burden continued to increase and due to the incompetence of the PML-N government, the surplus province was stuck in the vortex of debt.”

Elahi said the food department will be re-strengthened and its debt will be settled, he concluded. Secretary Food and Director Food gave a briefing regarding the position of wheat reserves. Provincial Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari, Provincial Food Minister Hasnain Bahadur Dreshak, Chief Secretary Abdullah Sumbal, Principal Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti, Additional Chief Secretary Home, Secretaries of Finance, Food, Agriculture departments, Director Food, former President Bank of Punjab Hamish Khan and related officials attended the meeting.



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