Friday March 01, 2024

Spreading fake air quality data: Minister asks FIA to take action

By Ali Raza
November 17, 2021

LAHORE: Punjab Environment Protection Department (EPD) has asked Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take action against those spreading fake/unauthorised data of air quality on social media and internet.

A letter was written by Punjab EPD Minister Muhammad Rizwan to Lahore FIA Director here Tuesday. In the letter, he said EPD was administering the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997. “It is an Act to provide protection, conservation, rehabilitation and improvement of the environment, for the prevention and control of pollution and promotion of sustainable development,” he said in the letter.

The minister wrote that during smog season, some unscrupulous elements with malafide intention were trying to damage the country's image by reporting misleading/false reading of Air Quality Index (AQI) from different unauthorised sources in Lahore on print and electronic media in contrary to the information by EPD, Punjab.

The minister asked the FIA authorities to take action against any person/company issuing fake/unauthorised data on social media and internet without having any approval from the EPA. He said the FIA should take action against such culprits under cyber laws. The minister while talking to The News said that EPD would identify such persons/companies to the FIA’s cyber crime wing. He said under cyber crime laws, unauthorised copying or transmission of data with dishonest intention and without authorisation came under FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing and the person/company committing this crime shall be punished with imprisonment and fines.

“Fake/unauthorised data on air quality of Lahore or any city of Punjab is harming international reputation of the government and creating fear among the citizens, which can’t be tolerated,” he said. To a question, the minister said the government was considering various options, including a month-long closure of schools, smart lockdown in sensitive areas and a ban on all kinds of construction activities in the City, including LDA’s three mega projects because adjoining areas of these projects were witnessing higher level of smog.

On the other hand, Professor Munawar Sabir, Director Punjab University's Centre for Integrated Mountain Research was ready to conduct an experiment of inducing artificial rain as a measure to counter smog. He said he will conduct his operation in Khanaspur in the last week of November 2021. He said many countries were creating artificial rains with different methods to fulfill their water needs. We can also do this by using drones to jolt clouds with negative charge. The rain caused through this method will give us water costing 10 paisa per litre. Good news was that the situation in Lahore was not very bad and the bad news was that it will not going to improve without rain, he said.

The minister on artificial rain said that the government has not considered this method. Lahore deputy commissioner said 21 industrial units were checked out of which 8 industrial

units were sealed for not controlling pollution.