The education department of Punjab on Wednesday announced the closure of all public and private schools in Lahore district every Friday and Saturday till further notice due to smog.
A notification issued by the education department stated that the move of school closures was taken in compliance with the directions of the Lahore High Court (LHC).
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has imposed an environmental emergency in Lahore and other cities after declaring the smog a calamity.
Along with the ban on burning crop residues across the province, the CM ordered the effective implementation of a plan prepared to reduce smog.
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According to an official statement, the chief minister said action should be taken to control the factors that cause smog.
He said officers of the environment, transport and industries departments as well as district administration should be active in the field to implement the plan. He said failure to implement the existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to reduce smog would not be tolerated.
The chief minister said indiscriminate action should be taken against those who set fire to crop residues. Legal action should also be continued against smoke-emitting vehicles, he added.
Also read: Country’s hazardous air a breach of fundamental rights
Punjab is the most populous province in Pakistan, with an estimated population of 110 million people. Five cities in Punjab were listed among the 50 most polluted cities in the world in 2020.
The current situation in Lahore is most alarming, with its fine particulate count repeatedly rising well above 40 times the World Health Organization’s air quality guideline values. The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution estimated in 2019 that 128,000 Pakistanis die annually due to air pollution-related illnesses.