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October 30, 2020

LHC unhappy with govt’s smog control steps

Lahore

October 30, 2020

LAHORE:The Lahore High Court on Thursday expressed its dissatisfaction over the Punjab government actions to control smog and observed that the chief secretary had not taken the issue seriously.

Hearing petitions relating to different environmental challenges, Justice Shahid Karim directed an additional advocate general to convey the court’s concern to the chief secretary. The judge ordered the chief secretary to conduct a meeting with the chief traffic officer (CTO) and environment department to ensure a ban on smoke-emitting vehicles in the province and also against the industries causing emissions.

The judge regretted that there was a time when deputy commissioners in every district used to perform their statutory obligations and implement law in letter and spirit. Unfortunately, they were not sensitised to the environmental issues that had adversely affected sustainable development, he added. The law officer stated that a notification had been issued to declare smog a calamity under Punjab National Calamity Act 1958. However, Justice Karim observed that mere issuance of a notification would not help curb the smog unless or until the chief secretary and the commissioners took serious actions and passed executive orders against the industries violating the laws. The law officer informed the court that the commissioners had been delegated the task in all major cities to curb the smog. The judge directed the government to release information and make it available to the public regarding the air quality index.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, representing a petitioner, said the government needed to take drastic steps and must ensure to close down kilns. A lawyer on behalf of the environment department assured the court that the whole brick-kiln industry would remain closed from November to middle of December. A counsel for the kilns association objected to the closure of the industry; however, the judge observed that no concession could be given to the kiln industry as the people’s well-being was at stake. The hearing was adjourned for 2 November.