From being in the top ten worst polluted cities in 2021, Lahore has now officially become the city with the worst air quality in the world, as per a report published by IQAir. The situation has now reached distressing levels and indicates that alarm bells have been falling on deaf ears as no serious measures have been taken to mitigate the issue.
The report further suggests that India and Pakistan together experience the worst air quality in the Central and South Asian region. Nearly 60% of the collective population is at severe health risk as levels are seven times higher than WHO’s recommended levels. A major reason why officials in both countries are taking this lightly is because of the nature of the issue. It is not caused by an accident or a disaster. Instead, it is the result of the culmination of years of pollution and negligence. Moreover, health complications are not immediate and usually take time to develop after prolonged exposure to toxic air. To make matters worse, governments of both countries work in a reactive manner, meaning that action will only be taken after an incident has occurred. But, in order to fight air pollution, one must take a proactive approach before things spiral out of control. In the wake of climate change and considering that South Asian countries are worst affected by it, officials must continuously and closely monitor the air quality index to take relevant steps in managing the situation. Perhaps both India and Pakistan can find a middle ground and collectively fight for a single cause as it will require lots of resources and significant funds in order to experiment, plan and execute possible technologies and strategies.
In the future, the effects of climate change will exacerbate and a united front will be necessary to defend our countries from ecological disasters. Putting the best foot forward right now will be a step in the right direction.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2023.
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