Protest demonstrations and rallies carried out in the provincial capital during the last three to four days have caused hours long traffic jams, which resulted in extraordinary increase in vehicular pollution and produced acid rain phenomenon in the provincial capital on Wednesday.
An investigation done by Environment Protection Department (EPD), Punjab into the smog and acid rain incidents occurred in Lahore on Wednesday revealed that hours long traffic jams, use of substandard fuel by industrial units and burning of rice husk in the surrounding areas of Lahore were the main reasons behind this unnatural phenomenon.
Naseem-ur-Rehman, director and spokesman for EPD, said during the last three to four days the provincial capital had witnessed very long hour traffic jams, which were caused by rallies and protests especially on The Mall and surrounding areas. He said the weather had already become wet and a blanket of particulate matter was present in the skies due to which the vehicular exhausts remained stagnant in the air. This has resulted in acid rain, he said, adding the phenomenon had already been witnessed in various metropolitan cities across the world. Another big reason of increased air pollution was use of substandard fuel used by steel furnaces in Lahore, EPD investigation said, adding out of over 300 steel furnaces some 125 were using substandard fuel, including rubber tyres, waste plastic and other similar items and smoke of these units had mixed with the vehicular pollution.
Most of these furnaces are operating around GT Road and their smoke automatically spread in the surroundings of The Mall as well as major urban areas of Lahore like Railway Station, Davis Road, Anarkali, Walled City, Akbari Mandi, Garhi Shahu, Mcleod Road, Data Darbar, Chauburji and etc.
Similarly, particulate matter (dust) raised from the ongoing construction work of orange line metro train project especially from the abandoned part of the project also played a major role in creating the outer blanket, which blocked all other gases in the air and didn’t allow the vehicular pollution to escape in the air. Taking immediate measures, Provincial Secretary EPD Capt ® Saif Anjum has directed all field teams to strictly monitor industrial units especially steel furnaces on GT Road and ensure that no one should use substandard fuel. The secretary also directed the traffic police officials to ensure smooth traffic flow in the provincial capital. Naseem-ur-Rehman said that EPD secretary had also contacted representatives of industrial sector and requested them to ensure use of wet scrubbers in relevant industries. He said as the humidity had increased in the city, any kind of pollution would stay in the air and would put adverse effects on human population.
He said the EPD had also requested the general public to minimise use of vehicles for two or three days while motorists were advised to use face masks. He said field teams in Gujranwala, Kasur, Faisalabad and Multan were also directed to remain vigilant and take strict action against polluters.