Sunday February 25, 2024

Punjab cabinet okays anti-smog measures: Campuses, govt offices to be closed on 18th

By Our Correspondent
November 16, 2023
CM Mohsin Naqvi speaks during a meeting with the provincial high-ups concerning anti-smog measures in this still on November 15, 2023. — Facebook/Govt of Punjab
CM Mohsin Naqvi speaks during a meeting with the provincial high-ups concerning anti-smog measures in this still on November 15, 2023. — Facebook/Govt of Punjab

LAHORE: Punjab caretaker cabinet’s anti-smog committee announced taking several new steps to curb smog, which included purchase of electrical motorcycles for the government officials.

The other anti-smog measures taken by the cabinet were a complete ban on the purchase of motorcycles using fossil fuel, establishment of first environmental lab in the province, closure of educational institutions and offices on Saturday, markets will open after 3 pm on Saturday, installation of smog air filter ionizer units at 12 places in provincial capital, establishment of a high-powered environmental commission, experts from Bahauddin Zakria University, Multan and Punjab University have been immediately contacted for artificial rain and a team of Chinese experts to eliminate smog in Beijing has been invited to Lahore for consultation while another special technical team will leave for Almaty.

The cabinet further decided that during the next 30 days, there will be free registration of Chingchi rickshaws after which crackdown will be started against unregistered Chingchi rickshaws as well as sub-standard fuel sellers.

After the cabinet meeting, the caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi while talking to media said that in Pakistan 10% of crop residue was burnt while India burns 90% of crop residue. In India there was no control on residue burning which was affecting us badly. Smog was a nuisance in the entire region and was increasing.

Farmers will be given modern machinery to destroy crop residues so that in the coming years we can be protected from environmental pollution. The team headed by the Chief Secretary will determine the modern machinery for the farmers and will buy modern machinery for the farmers in collaboration with the banks.

The Chief Minister said that after the approval of the cabinet, 12 air filter ionizers will be installed immediately in city. By installing air ionizers, the pollution in the air will be reduced and the air quality will be improved. Air ionizer technology was being used successfully in many countries of the world to improve the environment.

A high powered commission is being set up to deal with environmental challenges. The High-Powered Environmental Commission will fight environmental pollution. He said a committee has been set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to suggest measures for artificial rain. He said consultation will be started with experts of Bahauddin Zakaria University, Punjab University, Sparco and other federal institutions for artificial rain. Artificial rain will also be provided in other areas suffering from environmental pollution including Lahore. Experts from Bahauddin Zakaria University, Punjab University have been invited for consultation. After consultation with the experts, immediate and necessary steps will be taken for artificial rain. Chinese experts have also been contacted through the Chinese Consulate to eliminate smog, the CM said.

Police crackdown on smoke emitting vehicles continued, he said and claimed so far, the police issued 4 lakh 19 thousand challans and closed 80 thousand smoke-emitting vehicles. LWMC and Wasa was spraying 400 km of roads daily in Lahore, he said and maintained that all possible efforts were being made to eliminate smog. He said the government didn’t want to affect anyone's job, the business community should cooperate for the elimination of smog.

Due to the direction of the wind, smog may increase and there was no chance of rain, he added and concluded that everyone should try to eliminate smog, people should also play their role.

The Punjab government has initiated an environment-friendly measure to combat smog by restricting the entry of vehicles without fitness certificates and route permits on motorways and highways.

In this regard, an agreement was formalised on Wednesday between the Punjab government and the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) at the Chief Minister's Office, attended by Caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Mohsin Naqvi as the chief guest. The Additional Secretary Transport (Planning) and DIG (IT) of NH&MP signed the MoU.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, CM Naqvi appreciated the environment-friendly transport initiative. He announced a one-month grace period for the free registration of unregistered Chingchi rickshaws, emphasizing that afterward, unregistered rickshaws would not be permitted on the roads.

The Transport Secretary announced the establishment of vehicle inspection certificate stations in all Punjab districts and confirmed progress in running electric buses in Lahore.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Punjab Mohsin Naqvi has directed to expeditiously complete the upgradation of shrines of Sufi saints across different districts in the province.

Emphasising the importance of adhering to designated timelines, he underscored that the renovation project would ensure enhanced facilities for the visitants. The meeting chaired by CM Naqvi at his office reviewed the progress of the shrines' upgradation.

The meeting was told that the revamping of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh, Bibi Pak Daman, Hazrat Baba Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Shah Shams Tabraiz, Hazrat Baba Farid Ganj Shakar, Hazrat Musa Pak Shaheed and Hazrat Jalaluddin Shah Bukhari's shrines was in progress.

The refurbishment of the shrines of Hazrat Baba Farid Ganj Shakar, Hazrat Baba Bulleh Shah and Hazrat Shah Shams Tabraiz is slated for completion by January. Simultaneously, the upgradation of the shrine dedicated to Hazrat Musa Pak Shaheed is expected to conclude by February, the meeting noted.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, accompanied by Caretaker Chief Minister Sindh Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqer, made an unannounced visit to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) in Karachi.

The two CMs assessed the heart patient treatment facilities, interacted with patients and duty doctors, and inquired about medical services. Naqvi examined various departments, including the Emergency Block and CCU, observing the medical facilities and modern cardiac machinery at NICVD.

Commending the quality of patient care, Naqvi appreciated NICVD's initiative to establish chest pain units and satellite centers in other cities. During a briefing, the Punjab Chief Minister learned that NICVD's chest pain units, housed in containers across the city, serve approximately 600 patients each. With 17 such container clinics, NICVD has the capacity to perform 16 open heart surgeries daily, supported by an annual budget of 16 billion rupees.

Earlier, Caretaker Chief Minister Sindh Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqer held a meeting with Mohsin Naqvi at his office in Karachi. The discussion encompassed a range of issues, focusing on sugarcane pricing. Naqvi conveyed that the support price for sugarcane has been established at 400 rupees per maund in Punjab.

In response, the Sindh CM deliberated that, after careful consideration, their government has set the sugarcane price at 425 rupees per maund in Sindh. This decision was justified by the higher costs associated with sugarcane cultivation compared to Punjab. Additionally, he underscored the maintenance of the wheat support price at Rs4,000 per maund for the benefit of farmers.

Meanwhile, Mohsin Naqvi took notice of the tragic incident involving the murder of five individuals in Gujranwala. He promptly directed a detailed report from the Inspector General of Police.