Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi announced Wednesday that schools and offices across the province would remain shut on Saturday (November 18) as the authorities step up their efforts to curb smog.
The concentration of PM 2.5, or tiny particulate matter, in the air today approached 195, considered unhealthy — and during the week it also hit 400, considered hazardous.
Naqvi's announcement at a press conference in the provincial capital days after Lahore High Court's Justice Shahid Karim Monday ordered the government to close all schools and colleges on Saturdays in Punjab as the provincial authorities failed to curb smog.
Pakistan's second-largest city, with a population of 11 million, has been repeatedly ranked the world’s most polluted city. People have been advised to stay home and wear masks, with many residents having trouble breathing.
A four-day holiday was observed in smog-hit areas of the province on last week — from Friday to Sunday — and some businesses were also asked to shut down, but later allowed to remain operational as rains had subdued the smog.
"Air pollution is increasing due to smog," Naqvi told journalists, as he pointed out that 90% of the crop burning in winter takes place and 10% in Pakistan — which is a major contributor to smog.
To deal with this, the interim chief minister said farmers will be supported in purchasing modern machinery. "We are taking other measures to curb smog as well."