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Monday January 30, 2023

LHC orders extension in winter vacation of schools, colleges as smog worsens

LHC summons PDMA director-general to next hearing of separate pleas seeking efforts to control smog in Lahore

December 27, 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

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered on Tuesday the authorities to extend the winter vacations of schools and colleges for another seven days on account of excessive smog in the provincial capital.

The court summoned the Provincial Disaster Management Authority's (PDMA) director-general to the next hearing of separate pleas for efforts to control smog in Lahore.

"Smog is under control to an extent," the court remarked during the hearing, adding that controlling the levels of smog is the government's responsibility.

LHC allows theaters to remain open from 9:30pm-11pm

In a separate petition, LHC allowed the theatres to remain open from 9:30 to 11:30pm, directing the district administration to issue a notification in this regard.

Justice Shahid Karim issued the directives while hearing petition of the Punjab Artist Producer Theatre Association on closure of theatres.

The association had challenged the suspension notices sent to theatres opening after 10pm.

During the hearing, Justice Karim said that everyone is taking measures to control smog as it is a matter of adults as well as children.

Justice Karim urged the people to change their lifestyles to control the control.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing till Friday (December 30).

No schools on Fridays and Saturdays

On December 7, the LHC had ordered the Punjab government to notify a weekly three-day school closure — due to alarming levels of smog in the province.

Taking notice of the order, the Punjab school education department had issued an official notification for the increase in weekly offs i.e off on Friday and Saturdays apart from Sundays — applying to all public and private sector schools in Lahore district. Meanwhile, private offices had also been asked to remain shut on these days.

Besides the directives for schools' closure, the court had also ordered early closure of markets and restaurants in the city as smog continued to blanket the city.

On December 14, Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC had ordered the authorities to close markets by 10pm and ensure strict implementation on directives of schools' closure.

Air pollution has worsened in Pakistan in recent years, as a mixture of low-grade diesel fumes, smoke from seasonal crop burn off, and colder winter temperatures coalesce into stagnant clouds of smog.

Lahore, a bustling megacity of more than 11 million people in Punjab province near the border with India, consistently ranks among the worst cities in the world for air pollution.

In recent years residents have built their own air purifiers and taken out lawsuits against government officials in desperate bids to clean the air — but authorities have been slow to act, blaming the smog on India or claiming the figures are exaggerated.