LAHORE: Schools, colleges, and universities in Punjab will observe closures on Friday and Saturday as part of the province’s efforts to mitigate the impact of smog on citizens’ daily lives, following measures announced on Thursday.
Syed Mohsin Naqvi, the Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, disclosed the government’s decision after chairing a high-level meeting of the Punjab Cabinet Anti-Smog Committee in Lahore.
The Chief Minister stated that the government’s directives will apply to six provincial divisions, namely Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, and Sargodha, all affected by severe smog conditions.
Cities notably affected include Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, Sargodha, Kasur, Sheikupura, Hafizabad, Narowal, Nankana Sahib, and Sialkot.
In addition, markets and restaurants are permitted to commence operations from 3pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with a mandatory closure of all businesses on Sundays. The CM emphasized the need for adjustments in working hours without causing financial losses to anyone.
Friday will witness operational offices that will begin work at 3pm, aligning with the observation that Air Quality Index (AQI) levels are higher in the morning and tend to decrease later in the day.
To combat smog in Lahore, the government plans to install towers, as indicated by the CM, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Held meeting to combat SMOG challenge with a comprehensive plan:
Short term plan:
1. Restrictions in 6 divisions for immediate impact. ( Lahore, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan)
2. Sunday market closures.
3. Saturday openings post 3pm for markets, restaurants… pic.twitter.com/iZHahiKzoq
— Mohsin Naqvi (@MohsinnaqviC42) November 23, 2023
Additionally, the government aims to provide subsidized electric bikes to 10,000 students to reduce air pollution caused by regular motorcycles. A committee has been established to finalize suggestions for this initiative. Government employees will also have access to e-bikes through a leasing program.
Further strategies under consideration include the possibility of inducing artificial rain if specific clouds approach Lahore on November 29. However, this action will only be taken if the appropriate cloud conditions manifest. Additionally, the government plans to intensify water sprinkling on the streets.
On Sundays, the main Mall Road will be open exclusively for bicycle users from morning till 5 pm, an initiative among various others, as per CM Naqvi, to symbolically, strategically, and effectively tackle the pollution crisis.
CM Punjab urged the public to prioritize wearing masks to safeguard their health in the face of these challenges.