Tuesday Dec 10, 2019
The Punjab government has constituted a cabinet sub-committee to tackle the growing threat of smog and air pollution in the province, the government’s counsel told the Lahore High Court (LHC).
Justice Mamoon Rashid Shiekh of the LHC has been hearing a slew of writ petitions filed on November 6 by citizens, including schoolchildren, against the hazardous levels of air pollution in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city.
Teenagers, Leila Alam, Laiba Siddiqi and Mishael Hayat, had approached the court to challenge the official air quality index which was underreporting the severity of air pollution in the province. According to the petitioners, the air quality is worse than classified by the Environment Protection Agency, Punjab.
The state installed air quality monitors classify readings over 200 as “moderate”, when instead as per the US EPA, they are considered “hazardous”.
The government’s representatives also told the court a meeting of the Punjab Environmental Protection Council, which is tasked to implement environment policies in Punjab, has been scheduled as well. The last time the council met was in 2018.
During the hearing on Tuesday, the Secretary Environment Protection Department, Chief Conservator of Forests and representatives from different government departments were present. The court was also informed of the various afforestation measures being taken by the Forest Department.
“We are not conducting the proceedings for ourselves, we are conducting them for everyone's children,” Justice Mamoon Rashid Shiekh remarked.
Ahmad Rafay Alam, counsel for the petitioners, welcomed the measures taken by the government of Punjab. “We hope the upcoming meeting of the Environment Protection Council will consider the underreporting of air quality as well as other issues related to air and water pollution in Punjab.”