According to a Swiss air quality monitoring company, Lahore became the world’s most polluted city on Wednesday. It earned the title due to the thick cloud of smog that enveloped Pakistan’s cultural capital on Wednesday.
Platform IQAir said that Lahore now stands at the top of its polluted cities ranking – with an air quality index of 203 on the US AQI scale, versus runner-up Dehli, India, with 183. That standing was at 0949 GMT; the two cities had traded places at least once over the course of the morning.
Increasing smog and particle-laden air sickened thousands of people with respiratory and other illnesses. The smog forced many to stay at home on particularly dirty days like Wednesday.
Dhaka, Bangladesh came in third, with an index of 169, and Kolkata, India at fourth, with a reading of 168. Lahore stood at a third place a day earlier.
Lahore was once known as the city of gardens, which were ubiquitous during the Mughal era of the 16th to 19th centuries. Intense urbanization and surging population increased pollution across Pakistan’s second-largest after the capital Karachi. Doctors are advising people to wear face masks to avoid respiratory-related diseases.
VIDEO: Lahore is engulfed in thick smog. The Pakistani city is consistently ranked one of the world's worst for air pollution pic.twitter.com/sZIcMGDAXf
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 18, 2021
Punjab government takes action!
Owing to the worsening smog in Lahore, the Punjab government announced to shut down private and government schools in Lahore thrice a week.
Moreover, the provincial government directed private sector companies in Lahore to operate on a 50% attendance basis till further notice and said polluters would be fined.
The directive, issued by Punjab Relief Commissioner Babar Hayat Tarar, aims to act “as a preventive and speedy remedy” to ensure “public safety, conserve lives and preempt and mitigate the imminent threat of smog in the province of Punjab.”
Smog occurs when smoke mixes with fog. While air pollution is a persistent issue in most urban centers in Pakistan, every October and November contaminates in the air in Punjab shoot up as farmers burn rice stalks or stubble left behind after harvesting to clear their fields to plant wheat.