Lahore was once again rated as the most polluted city in the world on Saturday, with AQI ratings ranging from 166 to 279 in various parts of the city as the smog season returned.
According to the most recent statistics compiled by numerous public and private monitors, Beijing, Dhaka, Milan, Shenyang, Seattle, Zagreb, Portland, Karachi, and Vancouver are the next worst cities in the world for air quality.
Live statistics released by the United States air quality monitoring agency IQ Air show that the worst atmospheric pollution was recorded at Kot Lakhpat where the AQI rating was hovering around 279. The air quality of the provincial capital was in the range of unhealthy to very unhealthy for humans and animals in different areas.
On average, the PM2.5 concentration in Lahore’s air is currently 16.8 times above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) annual air quality guideline value. Air quality statistics released by the Regional Meteorological Centre in Lahore show that the prevailing meteorological conditions indicate that there are chances for the accumulation of suspended aerosols in the atmosphere in the coming two days, which may result in poor visibility.
The AQI may also remain in the ‘unhealthy for sensitive group’ range for the Lahore region during the period.
Smog became a major concern in 2017 when the Punjab Environment Protection Council created an AQI rating system and authorized a Smog Action Plan in response to a court injunction.
However, even after five years have passed, the air quality report from the Punjab Environment Protection Department still states that it either uses a mobile van or inexpensive sensors to monitor the air quality in the provincial capital.
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Despite persistent public concerns, the agency has not been successful in acquiring the necessary equipment, so it lacks a mechanism for a consistent and professional air quality monitoring system.
It’s interesting to note that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had to step in once more the day before. Prior to the winter season, the court ordered the provincial government to declare a smog emergency throughout the province.
It also ordered the authorities to immediately close the smoke-emitting factories, besides taking action against persons involved in burning crop residue. The bench warned that action on charges of contempt of court would be taken against officers responsible for preventing the burning of crop residue in case of failure to impose the ban.
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During a hearing on a citizen’s petition asking the government to take action to reduce the haze in the province, the court noted that Lahore had become the most polluted city in the world in just one week.