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November 18, 2019

How not to deal with smog

Newspost

 
November 18, 2019

The Punjab government has no solutions to the health crisis caused by the smog, nor does it seem committed to finding any. A few weeks into the deadly 'fifth season' in Pakistan and the government is all out of ideas. Once more, faced with the air index climbing to dangerous heights, the provincial government pulled out its default option of cancelling schools. The Punjab education department on Thursday decided to close all public and private schools in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad on November 15 and 16. Even more disappointingly, it did so once again without consulting the meteorological department. The skies remained clear on the 15th due to rains that fell late on Thursday night. While the incompetence can be marvelled at, it is the refusal of the government to implement any systematic or radical policy to fix this problem that is more concerning. Closing schools will not end the smog. The children are still breathing the same toxic air at home. The millions who are not students and who live in Punjab and ply their trade on the streets still have no protection.

Implementing policies in isolation to the rest of the government will not solve anything. Furthermore these so-called policies are not well thought out either. Instead of shouldering the blame, the provincial government has decided to shift the burden on the schools by making breathing masks mandatory for all – without providing any. This is not solving the problem, this is shirking from duty. The government needs comprehensive legislative changes to even begin tackling the problem. Such piecemeal reactive steps are just an eyewash.

Qazi Jamshed Alam Siddiqui

Lahore

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