Friday, January 27, 2023

Schools, offices in Lahore to stay close on Mondays to mitigate smog

A directive issued by the provincial government acknowledges the deteriorating air quality in the provincial capital

The Punjab government has decided to close all schools and private offices three days a week amid efforts to deal with the worsening smog situation in the provincial capital.

According to a notification issued by the provincial administration, the educational institutions and offices in Lahore will remain closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The notification takes effect from November 27, 2021, and will be applicable until January 15, 2022, and is applicable within the territorial limits of the Lahore Metropolitan Corporation.

The schools, however, can hold online classes to ensure the timely completion of the academic course. Similarly, private offices can ask their employees to work from home during the closure.

Persistent deterioration in Air Quality Index

The directive, issued by Punjab Relief Commissioner Babar Hayat Tarar, cites evidence of “persistent deterioration in Air Quality Index of the city of Lahore, fluctuating from satisfactory to poor levels, which is likely to cause breathing discomfort, respiratory tract diseases, and heart diseases” as a major reason behind the decision.

The order is anticipated 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.”

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has vowed to take every possible step to overcome the deteriorating air quality in the provincial capital.

What causes smog?

Smog happens when smoke in the air mixes with fog during the cooler months. In the months of October and November, air pollution in central Punjab shoots up as farmers burn rice stalks or stubble left behind after harvesting as they prepare fields to plant wheat. Since Lahore is surrounded by rice-growing districts, during this time of the year it gets covered by thick layer of smog.

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