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Lahore consistently ranks among the worst cities in the world for air pollution. Photo: AFP

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday ordered the Punjab government to issue a notification for a weekly three-day school closure – due to alarming levels of smog in the province – tomorrow.

On Friday, LHC Justice Shahid Karim hinted at ordering the closure of schools for three days and work from home for two days a week, seeking suggestions from the Punjab government to control the rising smog.

During the hearing today, the LHC ordered the government attorney to present the notification of the three-day closure in schools.

Punjab CM imposes ‘environmental emergency’ to deal with smog

Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, meanwhile, announced the imposition of an environmental emergency, ordering government officials to ensure the implementation of the plan to curb alarming levels of smog in Lahore and other cities of the province.

The CM said that they have declared smog a ‘calamity’ and would take strict action to curb the causes of smog. The CM added that they have already banned the burning of crop remains, which contribute significantly to raising smog levels and would take strict action against people violating the ban.

The CM ordered the department of environmental protection, transport, industries, and government executives to control the situation. He added that the government would not tolerate violation of the smog SOPs.

The PML-Q leader ordered anti-smog squads to patrol entry and exits points of Lahore and take action against people driving vehicles leaving excessive smoke.

The CM said they would provide farmers with modern hyperseed harvesters to dispose of crop remains. He added that government would ensure the transfer of all kilns to ‘Zigzag technology.’

Previous hearing

At the last hearing of the public interest petition, the court observed that the provincial government seemed non-serious to curb smog. He regretted that the smog had been increasing instead of eliminating.

The judge directed the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to make rules to enhance punishment on the brick kilns and industries for violating the laws and policies.

“A brick kiln or a factory should not be sealed but demolished on committing violations,” the judge recommended to the agency. Justice Karim directed the provincial government to seek support from the federal minister and international experts on enviromement and climate change. 

A repeat of 2021 

On November 22, 2021, the Punjab government had decided to shut down private and government schools in Lahore thrice a week as the smog situation in the provincial capital had took a turn for the worse.

According to the notification, schools and offices were closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

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