The winter brings joy for many people in the country, but not for the residents of Lahore and surrounding areas who face worsening air pollution.
The winter in Indian and Pakistani Punjab coincides with the end of Kharif season, which prompts crop burning to clear the fields and prepare it for sowing again. This smoke, released in the air reacts with the sunlight and fine particles to form smog. Since the air gets denser during colder weather, the pollution remains in the air for an extended period.
And so is the case now; with winter setting foot in the country, the air quality of Lahore has begun to deteriorate. Last week, the provincial capital’s air quality scored over 200 on the Air Quality Index (AQI) to top the list of the world’s cities with the worst air quality.
The air quality monitoring system installed in the US Consulate recorded the metropolis’ AQI score over 220 last Friday, which is alarming according to international standards. However, the Punjab Environment Protection Department does not seem to agree, as according to it, the index should cross 300 to make it an ‘alarming situation.’
Going by the provincial environment watchdog, now is the time to worry about it as Lahore’s PM2.5 was recorded at 450+ with Gulberg going beyond the index. Know that the AQI Index ends at 500.
As of today, the city has left behind New Delhi to become the world’s most polluted city after crossing the 400-mark on the AQI Index. The air pollution level in Lahore is actually touching its highest limit. This emergency is expected to remain for the next couple of days.
While the government remains in hibernation, an environment-friendly non-profit organization ‘Climate Action Now, has issued safety precautions for the residents of Lahore.
Lahoris have been advised to:
- No outdoor activity, completely
- Do not open windows and doors frequently
- Use protective gear (masks, glasses, bike helmets)