Wednesday February 01, 2023

No school on Fridays and Saturdays either in smog-hit Lahore

Govt compelled to give extra weekly offs to all public, private schools in Lahore district as smog situation worsens; private offices to stay closed too

December 07, 2022
Children walk to school amid heavy smog conditions in Lahore on December 1, 2022. — AFP
Children walk to school amid heavy smog conditions in Lahore on December 1, 2022. — AFP

Schools in Lahore will remain closed on Fridays and Saturdays too now due to alarming levels of smog in the city, the government notified on Wednesday. Meanwhile, private offices have also been asked to remain shut on these days.

The notifications were issued in compliance with an order from the Lahore High Court (LHC).

Taking notice of the order, the Punjab school education department issued an official notification for the increase in weekly offs, which will apply to all public and private sector schools in Lahore district.

The notification does not mention till when the extra offs are applicable.

It stated that the chief executive officer of the district education authority, Lahore and the concerned heads shall manage the distribution of homework to students during the closure.

Shortly after, another notification was issued instructing private offices to stay closed on Fridays and Saturdays as well. In it, it was stated that staff may continue to work from home. The order will remain effective till January 15, 2023.

Meanwhile, School Education Department's notification stated that the decision to close the schools weekly is applied to all the private and government schools of District Lahore.

LHC's Justice Shahid Karim, last week, had 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.

On Tuesday, the court had then ordered the Punjab government to issue a notification for a weekly three-day school closure.

'Environmental emergency' imposed to deal with smog

Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi had also 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.

A day back, the CM had said 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.

He 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.'

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, like every year, taken a turn for the worse.

Schools and offices had been closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays last year.