Rain and wind on Saturday reduced the density of thick smog that had engulfed the city for the several days after smoke of the burning crop stubble in the adjoining Indian Punjab permeated Lahore and its adjoining areas, alarming the people and government alike and forcing the citizens to take precautionary measures. At 12 noon, the Air Quality Index (AQI) PM 2.5 recorded Lahore’s average air pollution at 171 – the unhealthy level – that is significant reduction from the previous hazardous level. The Punjab School Education Department on Thursday had announced to close all schools in Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad for two days.The Met department has predicted rain, wind/thunderstorm at scattered places in south Punjab, Sindh and northeastern Balochistan, besides at isolated places in districts of upper Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir in the next 24 hours. Snowfall is also expected over mountain. A spokesperson of Pakistan Meteorological Department said that upper parts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir will receive more rains during the next twenty four hours.The spokesperson said snowfall has also been reported on the mountains in Gilgit Baltistan, Kashmir and Mansehra. Besides, intermittent rain is continuing in different parts of the country including Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which has increased the intensity of cold.Since the start of November, Lahore’s AQI has witnessed an abrupt spike.Weather experts told the media that the sudden rise in smog stemmed from the smoke and other pollutants from Indian Punjab’s burning crops.As per Lahore US consulate Air Quality Monitor feed, Lahore’s AQI was PM2.5 – 220 at 12 noon.In Gulberg, the AQI was 179, the Punjab Assembly vicinity observed PM2.5 at 209, Upper Mall at 173, Sandar Industrial Estate at 189, DHA Phase 5 at 206 and Zeenat Block at 198.An AQI ranking between 151-200 is classified as ‘very unhealthy’, according to Air Now, and may cause the entire population to experience adverse effects. ‘Sensitive groups’, i.e., people with lung diseases, children and elderly people, may be at greater risk.Areas with an AQI ranking between 101-150 is classified as ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ and may pose health risks to ‘sensitive groups’, i.e., people with lung diseases, children and elderly people. “The general public is not likely to be affected,” Air Now says.For the last four years, smog, rightly being called the fifth season of Lahore, has deprived the people of sunshine and dusk-hour charm as layers of toxic smoke engulf horizon from November to February.The situation became worse this year as the Punjab government, for the first time, announced the closure of schools due to dense smog. Residents accuse the government of taking insufficient measures to control the situation even as the administration insists that it is making efforts to deal with the smog.Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, earlier this month, said Pakistan has taken measures to stop crops stubble burning, a major cause of the phenomenon, and other countries should also come forward to address it. He said that two smog checking units had been installed in Lahore and his department was also focusing on measures to increase resources to address the issue. “With the help of the World Bank the government was launching a programme to address the air quality issue,” he said.