Pakistan’s smog-hit Lahore closes schools after ‘environmental emergency’

Islamabad, Dec 7 (EFE).- Authorities in Pakistan’s eastern metropolis of Lahore, listed as one of the world’s most polluted cities, ordered schools to close three days a week on Wednesday due to high levels of air pollution.

The Punjab government declared an environmental emergency in the capital city, citing haze and dangerously low air quality.

“All the private and public schools have been notified to remain closed three days a week because of the increased level of smog,” provincial education department official Muhammed Afzal told EFE.

Lahore suffered the worst pollution levels and topped the global air quality index on Wednesday morning, according to the IQAir website that monitors air quality across the globe.

Kolkata and Mumbai, both in India, closely followed the Pakistani city.

On Wednesday afternoon, the PM2.5 concentration in Lahore was 22.8 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value.

The School Education Department on Tuesday asked all government and private schools in Lahore to remain closed every Friday and Saturday, in addition to the weekly holiday on Sunday, till further orders.

The notification came a day after the Lahore High Court asked the provincial government to close schools three days a week.

Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi Tuesday imposed an environmental emergency in Lahore and other cities to deal with the situation.

“Environmental emergency has been implemented to reduce smog in cities, including Lahore,” Elahi tweeted on Tuesday evening, adding that “smog has been declared a disaster.”

He banned agricultural waste burning across the eastern Punjab province.

“Action will be taken to control the factors that cause smog,” Elahi added.

The chief minister issued directives to transfer all brick kilns to zigzag technology.

He ordered that the environment, agriculture, industries, and transport departments conduct an anti-smog campaign continuously for three months.


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