Tuesday January 25, 2022

Smog layer thickens over City

By Ali Raza
December 02, 2021

LAHORE:The Environment Protection Department (EPD) secretary has stopped EPD and EPA officials from sharing any data/details on environmental issues with the media.

In a letter dated November 29, 2021, the provincial secretary warned the EPD/EPA not to have any correspondence with the media without his permission otherwise a disciplinary action will be taken against them. EPA DG had written a similar kind of letter dated November 25, 2021 in which she stopped all officials from talking to the media. In that letter she nominated herself and EPD secretary as focal persons to deal with the media. The News repeatedly tried to contact the EPD secretary on his cell numbers and left text messages to get his point of view but he didn’t respond. On the other hand, smog continued to prevail in the city here on Wednesday as average Air Quality Index (AQI) was over 350, which fell in the category of hazardous. Layer of smog has thickened in the city which is causing serious health problems for the citizens as EPD has failed to implement SOPs and take an effective action against polluters including smoky vehicles. Sources revealed that EPD field teams have allegedly unofficially allowed several industries to operate at night. Most of these industries include steel mills, pyro plants and brick kilns.

Sources said air quality monitor of EPA at Town Hall was not operational because of which the Air Quality Data of that side was not available. EPD officials linked closure of this station with technical issues. In Township, AQI was 146, at National Hockey Stadium, Gulberg the AQI was 398 and the data of Mobile Van stationed at DHA, Phase8 showed it was 397.

Citizens told The News that they were facing problems of breathing, cough, sour throat, sneezing, irregular heart beat and headache.

Citizens said they can’t stay home and have to come out on roads for their offices and works. They demanded the government take concrete efforts to combat smog instead of holding meetings in their luxury offices.

Meanwhile, Met officials said continental air was prevailing over most parts of the country. They predicted mainly cold and dry in most parts of the country. However, smog/fog was likely to prevail in plain areas of Punjab during night and morning hours. Wednesday’s lowest minimum temperature was recorded at Leh where mercury dropped down to -09°C while in Lahore it was 8.8°C and maximum was 23.7°C.

In a late night whatsapp message, Secretary EPD said that he and DG EPA were available to media but sometime they can't answer them because of official meetings or other official business.