LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday hinted at ordering a weeklong lockdown for schools and private offices in the provincial metropolis due to poor Air Quality Index (AQI).
Hearing several public interest petitions on the environmental issues, Justice Shahid Karim observed that the air quality index aggravated to dangerous levels which made the entire city one of most polluted in the world.
The judge observed that desperate times call for desperate measures and health emergency must be imposed in the entire city. A director of the Punjab Disaster Management Authority told the court that there had been a decline in the smog during the last week. He hoped that the smog would continue to decrease in the next one week.
A judicial water commission also submitted its report before the court disclosing that notices had been issued to 47 sugar mills in the province for causing air pollution and not installing water treatment plants.
Advocate Azhar Siddique, on behalf of a petitioner, argued that the provincial government had not been performing its statutory obligations to control pollution. Representing another petitioner, Advocate Sheraz Zaka said the commissioner must close down factories causing air pollution and smog. He said the government also failed to punish individuals involved in stubble burning.
Justice Karim lauded the efforts of traffic police for controlling traffic congestion and allowing free flow of traffic. Lord Mayor Mubashir Javed apprised the court of steps taken against engrossment in the city. He said several blocked roads had been reopened for traffic.
The judge adjourned further hearing till the next week and directed the PDMA officials and others to come prepared for the lockdown if the AQI remained poor. Separately, Justice Karim disposed of multiple petitions directing the police not to interfere in the lawful business of oil depots alleged to have been involved in selling adulterated oil products of low quality and hence contributing towards air pollution.