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Punjab Declares smog calamity; Authorities to take action

Pakistan is experiencing severe smog encroachment due to a combination of several factors. The smog has caused serious concerns for both economic and health measures. Especially, government of the Punjab declares smog calamity for authorities to take action. What are the causes and factors of the smog rise in Punjab following discussed.

Rapid Industrial Growth and Deforestation

Pakistan’s economic growth and industrialization have led to a surge in vehicle emissions. Likewise, the industrial pollutants, and the burning of fossil fuels are also major elements to cause smog. These agents release harmful particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide into the air, contributing to smog formation.

Inadequate Emission Control Measures

Many industries and vehicles in Pakistan lack proper emission control systems. Such activities lead to the release of excessive pollutants. Additionally, public transportation options are limited, forcing people to rely on private vehicles, further increasing emissions.

Meteorological Conditions Pakistan’s geography and weather patterns exacerbate smog formation. The country’s northern mountains trap polluted air, preventing its dispersion. On the contrary, the prevailing winds blow pollutants towards urban centers also are the causes. Moreover, the frequent occurrence of low-pressure systems and winter inversions trap pollutants near the ground, hindering their vertical mixing and dispersal.

Open Burning of Agricultural Hay

During the harvest season, farmers in many parts of Pakistan resort to open burning of crop residues, which releases vast amounts of smoke and particulate matter into the atmosphere. This practice contributes significantly to smog formation, particularly in the eastern and southern regions.

 

What Measures Punjab Govt. Takes to Curb Smog Prevalence?

Punjab government is taking the following actions to curb smog Prevalence.

  • Ban on Stubble Burning: Banning the open burning of crop residues during the harvesting season.
  • Restricting Industrial Activity: Phasing out industries that emit high levels of pollutants and implementing emissions control measures for existing industries.
  • Enforcing Vehicle Emission Standards: Imposing stricter emission standards for public and private vehicles and conducting regular emission tests.
  1. Prohibiting Private Vehicles on Certain Days: Instituting odd-even vehicle restrictions on specific days to reduce traffic congestion and emissions.
  2. Public Transportation Enhancement: Encouraging the use of public transportation by improving infrastructure and providing incentives for public transport usage.
  3. Smog Ban and Fine Order 2022: This order outlines penalties for violating smog-related regulations, including fines for stubble burning, operating polluting industries, using smoke-emitting vehicles, and failing to implement mitigation measures.
  4. Punjab Clean Air Action Plan: This plan outlines a long-term strategy for improving air quality in the Punjab through a combination of measures, including:

 

  • Improving Urban Planning and Transportation: Initiating urban development projects that prioritize pedestrian-friendly spaces, cycling infrastructure, and public transportation.
  • Enhancing Emission Control Technologies: Supporting the development and adoption of cleaner technologies for industries and vehicles.
  • Strengthening Monitoring and Enforcement: Enhancing air quality monitoring networks and enforcing environmental regulations to ensure compliance.
  • Raising Public Awareness: Conducting public education campaigns to raise awareness about air pollution and encourage responsible behavior.

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