Wednesday Nov 17 2021

Punjab minister wants FIA action against fake air quality data

A file photo of smog in Lahore.
A file photo of smog in Lahore.
  • Punjab minister asks FIA to take action for spread of 'fake air quality data'.
  • Says "unscrupulous elements with malafide intention" trying to damage Pakistan's image during smog season.
  • A department director at Punjab University, meanwhile, suggests experiment to induce artificial rain as to counter smog.

LAHORE: The Punjab government wants the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take action against anyone spreading fake or unauthorised data on air quality in the province on social media.

Punjab Environment Protection Department (EPD) Minister Muhammad Rizwan wrote a letter to the FIA Lahore director for this purpose.

In it, he wrote that EPD is administering the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997. “It is an Act to provide protection, conservation, rehabilitation and improvement of the environment, for the prevention and control of pollution and promotion of sustainable development,” he was quoted as saying in the letter by The News.

The minister expressed the belief that some "unscrupulous elements with malafide intention" were trying to damage the country's image during smog season by reporting a misleading and false reading of the Air Quality Index (AQI) from different unauthorised sources in Lahore on print and electronic media in contrary to the information by EPD, Punjab.

He said the FIA should take action against such culprits under cyber laws. EPD will identify such persons/companies to the FIA’s cyber crime wing, he told the publication, explaining that under the cyber crime laws, unauthorised copying or transmission of data with dishonest intentions and comes under FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing and the person/company responsible could be imprisoned or fined.

“Fake/unauthorised data on air quality of Lahore or any city of Punjab is harming international reputation of the government and creating fear among the citizens, which can’t be tolerated,” he said.

So how can the smog issue be addressed?

To address the smog issue, he said the government is thinking over several options, including a month-long closure of schools, a smart lockdown in sensitive areas and a ban on all kinds of construction activities in Lahore, including LDA’s three mega projects because adjoining areas of these projects are witnessing higher levels of smog.

An experiment to induce artificial rain as a measure to counter smog, meanwhile, is being considered by Punjab University Centre for Integrated Mountain Research Director Professor Munawar Sabir.

He plans to do this in Khanaspur in the last week of November 2021. Many countries are creating artificial rain with different methods to fulfill their water needs, he explained, adding that we can do it too by using drones to jolt clouds with a negative charge.

"The rain caused through this method will give us water costing 10 paisa per litre. The good news is that the situation in Lahore is not very bad and the bad news is that it will not improve without rain," he said.

On the option to induce artificial rain, the provincial minister said the government has not considered this method.

The Lahore deputy commissioner said 21 industrial units were checked, out of which eight were sealed for not controlling pollution.