LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday sought a response from the Punjab government by November 12 on the adverse effects of air pollution and smog.
The petition filed by two minors and a university student asked LHC to take notice of the deteriorating air quality in Punjab and across the North Indian Sub-Continent.
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 petitioners’ counsel Ahmad Rafay Alam argued how Pakistan could declare the environment ‘fit’ where as the United States Environmental Protection Agency deems it otherwise.
“Children start to get ill as soon as the winter begins,” Alam stated. “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(Unhealthy) but, Punjab’s Environmental Protection Agency has deemed it satisfactory.”
It also asks the court to pass any other such order as may be just and equitable given the facts and circumstances of the matter.
Earlier, Amnesty International censured Pakistan’s government for its failure to protect people from “exposure to hazardous air” and “risking and violating human rights to life and health”.
In a statement issued in October, the organisation noted that the Air Quality Index (AQI) in 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 said the levels of air quality in Punjab have fluctuated between near unhealthy and very unhealthy most of the year. “During the smog season – from October to January – air quality reaches hazardous levels.”