Winter’s here and it’s the favorite time of the year. Punjab witnessed an unprecedented level of fog? But is it really what it seems? No, not at all. In fact, it’s smog which has covered Lahore and other parts of the province. What is smog and from does it originates? It is a mixture of highly thick toxic pollutants and fog that are considered serious health hazards.

The smog level increased so much within the one last week that it reached homes too. Further exposure to smog can lead to bigger ailments such as lung cancer, asthma and other respiratory problems. It can not only damage agricultural land but threaten animal species as well. Moreover, unprecedented construction work in urban areas and unregulated deforestation have also greatly contributed to this problem. The situation is such that even during the summers, permanent haze hangs over the city that is only relieved when it rains. Air pollution is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed as Lahore is considered one of the most polluted cities in Asia. The problem in Punjab could worsen with the completion of under construction thermal power plants, notably the one near Sahiwal. Soon after construction work on the project began, a number of petitions were filed in different courts, including the supreme court, questioning its execution on environmental grounds. The petitions argued that the project could degrade the environment. Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, has already constituted a committee of experts and relevant government officials to deliberate upon the existing smog levels. Punjab government shall seriously need to introspect its development priorities. If immediate measures are not taken to reverse the environmental damage, residents shall be at risk of serious health issues. Some sources claim that the smog is a result of some industrial waste set on fire in in Indian Punjab that’s why the smog prevailed in Pakistani Punjab. However, this is debatable given the level of environmental issues currently faced by the locals.

One possible way to combat smog are to minimize travelling and wear masks where necessary. Furthermore, the government should check the air quality through scientific methods. Finally, community outreach programs must be initiated to contain such problems for a better and brighter tomorrow of our incoming generations.

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