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Thursday February 22, 2024

Karachi smog: Sindh urges public to wear face masks amid worsening air quality

Sindh CM Maqbool Baqar calls on stakeholders to invest in public transport, pedestrian-friendly alternatives

By Web Desk
November 27, 2023
A view of heavy fog at M.A Jinnah Road in evening hours in Karachi on  November 19, 2023. — Online
A view of heavy fog at M.A Jinnah Road in evening hours in Karachi on  November 19, 2023. — Online

With the province's capital city experiencing high smog levels, Sindh caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar Monday called on the public to ensure the use of face masks amid Karachi's worsening air quality.

As per the statement released by the Sindh Chief Minister's House, the province's chief executive, as a "short-term" measure against poor air quality levels, has urged the educational institutes to ensure that students wear face masks to "protect themselves from illnesses concomitant with smog."

Furthermore, the chief minister has also urged all stakeholders to "move beyond car-centric infrastructure" and instead invest in public transport and pedestrian-friendly alternatives.

The announcement comes as on Monday, the concentration of PM 2.5 — or tiny particulate matter — in the air hit 256 in Karachi — which is deemed as "very unhealthy", according to Swiss-based IQ Air.

At present, IQ Air ranks Karachi as the third city with the worst air quality index in the world.

The development comes as various parts of the country have been gripped with severe smog amid worsening pollution levels.

Punjab, especially Lahore which has repeatedly topped the air quality charts as the world's most polluted city, have the worst-affected areas forcing the Lahore High Court (LHC) to impose a citywide emergency in the provincial capital earlier this month.

The country's largest province, which recently witnessed a four-day "holiday", is mulling over carrying out artificial rain in Lahore to combat the severe smog levels in the provincial capital — a project with an estimated cost of Rs350 million as per the sources in the Finance Ministry.

Last week, the provincial government had ordered the closure of educational institutions including all schools, colleges and universities on Friday and Saturday in its bid to curb high smog levels.

Sources within the province's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that a number of furnaces in northern Lahore were operating at night and using sub-standard fuel such as rubber tyres, plastic and other materials while many other factories in different industrial estates of the city were also contributing to rising air pollution.

Meanwhile, caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has said that the interim administration would provide electric bikes to 10,000 students on subsidy to curb the use of regular motorcycles which cause air pollution along with the provision of e-bikes to government employees on lease.