The city experienced a brief respite of five days and once again, Lahore’s air quality threatens the fundamental well-being of its inhabitants. A look at the Air Quality Index for just one day reveals how grim the situation is and how exposed the residents are. Reaching a maximum reading of 401, it is worrying to note that safe-to-inhale air is recorded on the AQI along the below 50 mark. The causes are numerous and identifiable but failure to adopt a significant policy that can help improve the city’s air is a big challenge right now.
October to February are the months when the city’s air experiences smog because crop residues are burned during this time. But this serves as no justification for letting the citizens breathe air that can kill them sooner. Falling third on the list of cities with the worst air quality, Lahore’s environmental situation is an emergency. If burning of crops or residue is contributing to smog, this practice must be stopped at once and alternatives must be sought to dispose of harvesting residue. Apart from this, it is a well-established fact that vehicular emissions, construction sites, and industry emissions are all contributing to adding pollutants that stick in the air for longer durations.
Lockdown’s decision to keep the citizens safe and let the city breathe had its own complexities. Under economic strain, it is obvious to expect that both business and service sectors cannot agree to suspend activity four days a week. But something needs to be done. The phenomenon cannot be brushed aside because it is the living reality of millions of people. The human contributors, which means the human activity that is piling up the hazardous, long-lasting pollutants in the air, need to be checked on. Strict measures should be brought in place to put an end to such activity, even if it means fewer vehicles on the road.
A variation in AQI readings across different areas of Lahore also needs to be checked, because it means that some activity in some areas is causing the air quality to worsen more as compared to other areas. These checks are important because they will help to map what activities need to be banned totally. These checks will also ensure that preventive measures are taken in the right direction and no resources are wasted in the healing of Lahore’s air.