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November 14, 2017

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Health emergency should be declared over smog: LHC CJ

Health emergency should be declared over smog: LHC CJ

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday sought personal appearance of the Punjab environment secretary with smog measurement record in a petition seeking direction to the provincial government to take effective measures to control smog and environmental pollution. 

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah passed the order on the petition moved by Sheraz Zaka. The CJ expressed serious concern over the Punjab government’s failure in coping with the situation which, according to the CJ, has gone out of proportion and causing a serious threat to people's health. 

The CJ went on to say that health emergency should be declared in Punjab but environment department had shown zero progress and turned a deaf ear to the glaring situation. Barrister Sara Bilal, who was appointed as amicus curie, told the court that health emergency should be enforced due to smog in Punjab. Such a department should be closed, she said. 

The CJ observed that the government has not been working swiftly to tackle the issue. The CJ pointed out that Pakistan has crossed the international limits set for pollution and smog, citing social media reports. The CJ regretted that the government unfortunately had no tools to measure smog and keep its record.  Earlier, the environment department presented before the court the notified copy of the smog policy. 

Sheraz Zaka, the petitioner, had submitted that smog had caused serious health problems for the public. Public did not have pure water to drink and now air to breath, the lawyer said, adding that the smog had also been affecting animals. He had requested the court to order the Punjab government for taking effective measures to control pollution and enforce the smog policy in order to protect environment. The court will resume hearing today (Tuesday). 

In another petition about de-silting of rivers, the Lahore High Court declared that environment department’s surveys are important for all projects of excavating sands from rivers. The court passed the order on the petition moved by a company seeking action against local administration of the provincial capital for allegedly stopping it from excavating sand from the River Ravi and taking its machinery into custody.

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