As winters have finally appeared in Pakistan with a glimpse of the Autumn season, heavy smog again has spread over multiple cities of Pakistan.
CURRENT SITUATION OF PAKISTANI CITIES DUE TO HEAVY SMOG
Major cities of Pakistan are breathing in and out the poorest air due to air pollution caused by smog. Most recently, the second largest city of Pakistan – Lahore – is being categorized as one of the most polluted cities in the world. Dangerous level of smog causes many respiratory diseases among the population. Schools are off on Mondays, almost everyone is suffering from some kind of respiratory issue due to smog, everyone is in one way or another effected by the present situation of smog. And no, we simply cannot blame the smog crisis in Pakistan on India, there is mismanagement and wrong approach towards the issue at home too, which need to be addressed if we want to get rid of this issue of smog that has become a constant issue over the past few years.
METHODS TO CONTROL SMOG
It wouldn’t be a big deal to discuss that smog either can only be prevented through strategies and regulations or following general guidelines. Because there are chances of transboundary air pollution so how the world together acts over such common problems could make a difference.
There are several methods to control smog. A brief summary of practical solutions is listed here.
- Burning of paper, cardboard, leaves, plastic, rubber, and other material including waste combustion should be avoided specifically during winters.
- Vehicles should be monitored and tuned so that they don’t release toxic air pollutants into the air.
- Factories that cause air pollution should use wet air scrubbers and other air pollution controlling equipments.
- Fuel-efficient vehicles should be prioritized in order to lessen combustion-related pollution.
- A heavy penalty should be imposed on violators.
Also check out: Methods to Measure, Maintain and Control Indoor Air Quality
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT COULD HAVE DONE TO CONTROL SMOG BUT DIDN’T DO?
The Government of Pakistan along with the Government of Punjab should have made strict implementation of laws related to the emission of air pollutants by industries, factories, and fuel combustion in engines. There could be proper check and balance over inefficient fuel-burning vehicles by supervisor authority. An awareness program could have started earlier before the onset of winters to restrict farmers from burning rice and wheat stubble. This in return would have played a significant role in reducing particulate matter contribution to poor air quality. Even during the smog crisis wood for heating or piles of garbage can be seen burning in every corner of Lahore, without any repercussions, because the common man who has no idea that they are contributing to the poison they are breathing needs to be educated in this matter. Smog isn’t a new problem in major cities of Pakistan but the difference is this time the situation has worsened as compared to previous years and there is no solution in sight.
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WHAT THE GOVERNMENT DID TO CONTROL SMOG BUT DIDN’T DO IT WELL ENOUGH?
Punjab Government is very enthusiastic and promotes tree plantation campaigns throughout the major cities of Punjab. Regardless of the ongoing efforts (miyawaki urban forest, selling sapling to promote tree plantation, etc) to lessen the impacts of climate change, the government should realize the fact that tree plantation doesn’t control smog. Trees filter polluted air and improve the quality of air by absorbing the gaseous air pollutants but this phenomenon doesn’t apply to dust participles i.e. particulate matter – 2.5 that is the prime reason for smog. Smoke Stacks were improved with new technology to prevent release of pollutants, however there are reports of factories and brick kilns not following the proper SOPs, as a result releasing deadly air pollutants into the environment which contribute to smog. It seems like everything the government did has fallen short of what was required, or maybe just didn’t do it well enough. There is a dire need of a new and better approach, as well as proper planning and implementation of anti-smog strategies, if we wish to lead healthy lives. This is an environmental, as well as health emergency!
Pakistan shares no big or large portion of greenhouse gases being emitted in the air by top polluting countries. However, the country does suffer from heavy smog and is often subjected to transboundary air pollution. The Government of Pakistan and Punjab must understand that smog needs a separate and viable solutions. There should be immediate and visible actions taken in response to tackling the hazardous level of smog that is prevalent in the metropolitan cities of Pakistan, otherwise the consequences of this smog can be very serious for the people of Pakistan and their health.
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