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Friday January 21, 2022

Air Quality Index: One monitor insufficient for City, court told

By Ali Raza
January 14, 2022

LAHORE: Traffic Management Committee to counter smog has expressed grave concern that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only one air quality monitoring unit in the provincial capital.

The committee was constituted on the directions of Lahore High Court to counter smog in Lahore and was headed by Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) Chief Engineer Abdul Razzaq Chohan.

On Thursday, the committee submitted its seventh report in the LHC in which it expressed concern that EPA had only one machine for monitoring Air Quality Index (AQI) in Lahore, which was insufficient for the city.

“Regular AQI monitoring in all parts of the city is very essential to assess the impact of countermeasures and monitoring the changes in AQI,” the report submitted in the court said and requested the court to order the EPA for purchase of AQI monitoring machines for each zone of MCL.

The report proposed qualification for the post of the head of EPA - director general should be fixed as PhD in environmental sciences, having sufficient knowledge of environmental law. The report said on the request of Tepa, the court had allowed posting a full time judicial magistrate, who had yet to assume the charge. The report requested the LHC to pass directions to a district and sessions judge to ensure posting of a full time special judicial magistrate in Tepa because pendency of challans issued to the encroachers was piling up (about 2,200 at present). In its report, Tepa also requested the LHC to direct a district and sessions judge to ensure the magistrate would sit in Tepa instead of LDA.

The report while giving details of measures taken for reduction of smog revealed that as per orders of the LHC, Tepa has issued Work Order (s) for acquiring 500 New Jersey concrete barriers to be placed at locations identified by the traffic police. Accordingly, 500 New Jersey concrete barriers have already been handed over to the traffic police.

The report highlighted the use of impure/sub-standard/below specification fuels, which were causing emission of dangerous gases/particles, adding to smog. The report requested the LHC to direct the department concerned to apply strict checks on the fuel outlets to ensure sale of high quality Euro-5 fuel along with precise quantity measures for the general public.

The report also quoted a news item published in The News about shifting from Euro-1 fuel to Euro-5 fuel and introduction of environmental friendly vehicles. The report submitted in LHC revealed that hundreds of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs)with fake fitness certificates enter and exit the province daily.

“Although Vehicle Inspection and Certification System (VICS) is working but its jurisdiction is to the extent of Punjab. No online/instant verification mechanism for on-spot checking/authentication is available for checking vehicle fitness certificates issued by other provinces. As such, checking of fake/fabricated vehicle fitness certificates issued by other provinces is not possible,” the report claimed and recommended that an immediate system for online verification of fitness certificates of other provinces should be devised on the lines of corona vaccination system, in order to overcome this practice.

The report suggested a centralised vehicle fitness and inspection system on interprovincial/national level for taking strict legal action against PSVs having fake/fabricated fitness certificates.

Head of the committee Chief Engineer, Tepa, Abdul Razzaq Chohan while talking to The News said LDA had prepared several schemes/proposals for various departments for efficient traffic management of different choking/congestion points of the city.

He said Tepa had decided to carry out study for traffic survey of major junctions of the provincial metropolis for traffic analysis and assessment and topographic surveys for redesigning of major roads and intersections. He said P&D has approved the project and technical and financial proposals will be called soon and M/s Nespak has been selected for the said work.

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