Smog: A Deadly Fifth-Season In Lahore

Lahore, the second largest and most polluted city of Pakistan has been choked with heavy blanket of smog again this year. Smog can be referred to as a super-wicked problem arising from industries, crop burning, smoke-emitting vehicles, brick kilns and solid waste disposal. This November monitoring report says that PM2.5 had reached 1,077µg/m3—frequently exceeding the official safety limit, 35 µg/m3 and filth can even be touched. Steady rise in our own carbon emissions & toxic emissions from crop burning in India worsen the affect as winter commences, giving rise to a fifth-season.
The throat-burning and eye-stinging smoke has affected residents beyond the obvious health concerns with each hospital accommodating 500 patients complaining of respiratory difficulties and eye-irritation. Bunch of people were killed in accidents due to poor visibility and highways have been closed occasionally regarding the issue. 13 power plants have been shut down that run on fuel oil and at four others power generation has been cut back. The power shortage then leads to daily outages of 12 hours and above causing trouble. The Punjab Govt. has taken several emergency measures for tackling the issue. Ban on burning crops and solid waste has been imposed. More than 100 people were being arrested for burning crops and 100s of factories have been shut down for not having proper emission-control-equipment. The Lahore traffic police has set up two centers to examine the commercial vehicles for compliance and has collected fines of more than $50,000 from drivers whose motor vehicles didn’t meet emission-standards. The global reports reveal the fact that Pakistan’s urban air pollution is significantly inflicting harm to human-health, economy, quality of life and the environment.

EPA has ordered brick-kiln owners to shut down their kilns from October to December and to shift their kilns on modern zig-zag technology for the reduction of smoke. Although, this is preventive measure but it isn’t that beneficial economically. Brick kilns take a lot of time to achieve the high temperature required for heating bricks and so require huge amount of fuel for the purpose. In that case, shutting down the kilns will leave owners with great loss. Moreover, Advisor to the PM on climate change has stated that the cross-border burning of crops has increased and continues unabatedly. Despite of the fact that Pakistan Punjab has controlled the issue, the conditions would worsen around 7th November, when fireworks will set of f for celebrating the Hindu-festival, Diwali. For a developing country like Pakistan having poverty as a major issue, it is difficult to mitigate climate-change that creates a vicious cycle of problems; smog being a super-wicked problem.

Real time solution is required which involves possible measures i.e. phasing out of fuel-guzzling cars, improving quality of fuel, introducing solar & amp; other renewable-sources of energy, improving public transportation to reduce the traffic burden and large-scale tree plantation. Issue of trans-boundary pollution has already been taken-up. Govt. is planning to establish 11 air monitoring stations, and smog-awareness-desk in hospitals.

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