Punjab’s smog-hit districts are required to wear face masks

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As the caretaker government in Punjab continues to suffer from extremely bad air quality across the province, residents are now required to wear face masks in smog-hit districts as the government made the policy mandatory on Sunday.

According to Punjab’s Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi in a post on the popular social networking website X, formerly Twitter, “In response to deteriorating Air Quality, the Punjab Government announces a 1-week mandate that all citizens in smog-affected districts in Punjab wear face masks for at least one week.”

In order to make our community a safer place, it is important that we prioritize health. Please adhere to the following guidelines for a safer community.”

The Punjab Health Department had shared a notification on Wednesday about the high level of Air Quality Index (AQI) due to SMOG which poses an immediate and severe threat to the health of the general public of all ages.

It was emphasized by the Punjab government that all citizens must take all measures possible to prevent and control the spread of airborne diseases in the province of Punjab by taking all possible safety measures.

According to Ali Jan Khan, the secretary of the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department, with the approval of the chief minister, all citizens are now being ordered to wear masks while performing all kinds of outdoor activities in the open air.

This order will be implemented in the areas of Lahore Division (districts Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur), Gujranwala Division, Gujranwala District, Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahuddin) and Gujranwala Division (districts Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahuddin) that have the highest Air Quality Index (AQI) for the next one week, namely, November 20, 2023 to November 26, 202.

Earlier this week, the provincial government had announced that it was planning to carry out artificial rain on the streets of the provincial capital in the coming weeks.

Bilal Afzal, the provincial environment minister, said a team and working group should be established in order to provide artificial rain. The team and working group will consult on whether aircraft will be needed to provide artificial rain.

There are a number of Punjabi districts that have experienced the worst levels of air pollution lately, including Lahore, Jhang, Hafizabad, Khanewal, Nankana, Bahawalnagar and Sheikhupura.

It has been ordered by the Lahore High Court that all schools and colleges in the smog-hit districts of Lahore will remain closed on Saturdays. The court also ordered the government to implement a work-from-home policy on at least two days a week until a solution can be found.

Do you know why South Asia has a higher level of pollution than other parts of the world?

As a result of the rapid growth in industrialisation, economic growth, and population growth throughout South Asia over the last two decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the consumption of energy and fossil fuels in these countries.

Although many countries are affected by pollution from sources such as industries and vehicles, some factors that are unique to South Asia are the combustion of solid fuels for cooking and heating, the cremation of humans, and the burning of agricultural wastes.

There has been a significant increase in pollution in New Delhi since the start of this year, for example, due to stubble burning in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana, a practice whereby stubble left over after harvesting rice is burned to clear fields.

During the period of development of the region, there has also been an increase in the number of vehicles on the road, which has added to the pollution problem. As an example, the number of vehicles in India and Pakistan has increased four-fold since the early 2000s, as the number of people has increased as well.

A study by Swiss Group IQ Air, which has been ranked as the world’s most polluted capital for four years in a row, found that New Delhi has almost eight million vehicles on its roads, amounting to 472 vehicles per thousand people, according to government data.

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