lahore air quality

Two school-going children in Lahore have filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against the dangerous smog that has built up in the city since October.

Mishael Hyat, 17, Leila Alam, 13, and Laiba Siddiqi, 18 have filed the petition to get Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh’s attention in regards to the deteriorating air quality in the city and its surrounding areas.

The teens have accused the government of Punjab of violating their right to life and health by underreporting the severity of Lahore’s polluted air.

The petition states that “Smog Policy and Action Plan arbitrarily underreports the severity of ambient air pollution thereby exposing the general public to unacceptable and unsafe levels of air pollution and is therefore violative of the Fundamental Right to a clean and healthy environment.”

The children’s lawyer Rafay Alam added:

According to USEPA Air Quality Index (AQI) the air should be on 50 (Good) whereas it is on 144 (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups). Lahore’s air quality was 182.

Just last week, the air quality of the city crossed 400, crossing all safe limits to set an all-time record.

Children start to get ill as soon as the winter begins, -Rafay Alam

Alam told the court that seniors and children are vulnerable to the smog outside. Not just that, it can lead to serious health issues including a rise in asthma and other related cases.

Earlier, Amnesty International had also pointed out at the Pakistan Government’s failure to protect the citizens from the increasing bad-air quality as Lahore had reached 484.

The threshold for ‘hazardous’ level of air quality is 300 where people are advised to ‘avoid all physical activity outdoors -Amnesty International

Alam shared that air-quality worsens when smog seasons ponders in (Oct-Jan), due to Pakistan’s general industrial, agricultural, and transportation practices. The government needs to do something to provide relief to citizens, he added.

The petition calls out several government agencies in charge of monitoring air quality, including the Punjab Environmental Protection Council, Punjab Safe Cities Authority, Environment Protection Department of Punjab, and Pakistan Environment Protection Agency.

The LHC has directed the Punjab government to submit its reply in the next hearing.

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