Smart lockdown has been imposed by the government of Punjab in 10 districts across the province today (Saturday, November 18) to combat the worsening smog situation in the province.
According to the media reports, the lockdown in Punjab came as the Air Quality Index once again crossed 400 in Lahore, making it the world’s most polluted city. The 10 districts include Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad, and Mandi Bahauddin.
According to a notification issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, all movement and economic operations in the ten districts would be restricted. Schools and universities will be closed as well. Markets, gyms, and movies, on the other hand, will be permitted to open after 3 p.m.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab government has started planning to carry out artificial rain in the provincial capital later this month amid the worsening smog situation in Lahore. This will be the first-of-its-kind experiment in Pakistan.
A meeting was conducted in this respect, with Provincial Environment Minister Bilal Afzal and Education Minister Mansoor Qadir in the chair, to discuss the evaluation of short-, medium-, and long-term solutions to minimize smog in the city. The meeting was attended by Secretary of Environment Rashid Kamalur Rehman, members from the Environment Protection Department, SPARCO, and various universities.
A consultation on artificial rainfall to reduce smog was also held, and it was decided that preparations for artificial rain should be made on November 28 or 29, when gloomy weather is possible. The provincial minister stated that an artificial rain team and working group should be constituted to consult on the provision of aircraft to carry out fake rain. Clouds, according to Bilal Afzal, were required, and the working committee would have to address all aspects of the artificial rain. The working group’s final recommendations would be given to the chief minister for approval, he said.
The worst air pollution is found in Punjab districts such as Lahore, Jhang, Hafizabad, Khanewal, Nankana, Bahawalnagar, and Sheikhupura. Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court has ordered that all schools and colleges in smog-affected districts close on November 18. The court also ordered the government to institute a two-day-a-week work-from-home regime.