–Punjab health minister says provincial govt to distribute 0.2m face masks and awareness literature to combat smog
LAHORE: In a move that both belittles the persisting smog condition and shows a gross lack of responsibility on the provincial government’s part, Minister for Primary and Secondary Health Imran Nazir on Saturday stated that public can remain safe from the hazardous effects of the current weather by using face masks.
Repeating the mantra of Punjab government in the face of smog which has become a particularly unhealthy nuisance for the residents, the minister stated that face masks should be used as a precautionary and that the citizens had nothing to worry about.
He stated that the general public should adopt precautionary measures to stay safe whilst the weather persisted and try retaining their daily activities without apprehension.
He further stated that face masks should be used while going outside to avoid the negative impact of the smog on health and further explained that the health department was doing its due by distributing masks and awareness literature among the citizens and the community should also play its role in controlling the environmental pollution.
He expressed these views while distributing face masks and leaflets for creating awareness against smog among the citizens at Istanbul Chowk, Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam.
While attempting to explain the phenomenon of smog, the minister once again blamed the Indian side for burning crop stubbles, adding that pollution inducing factors in the province may also be a reason behind the recent freak weather.
He said that due to smoke generated by factories and old vehicles, use of poor quality fuel and tires by the industrial units and low pressure of the atmosphere, smog in various cities of Punjab had been caused.
The minister in an effort to channel some of the governmental responsibility on to the general population stated that protection of the environment and reducing pollution was a collective responsibility and that citizens should refrain from indulging in acts that increase the level of air pollution.
According to the minister, the health department will distribute 0.2 million masks among the citizens of Lahore as a token to emphasise the need for adopting preventive measures to protect themselves from smog.
He further stated that awareness literature is also being distributed, which would help the people in adopting comprehensive safety measures.
Special Secretary Primary and Secondary Health Dr Faisal Zahoor, Lahore Health Chief Executive Officer Dr Yadullah and the staff of the health department were also present on the occasion of mask distributing in the provincial capital.
The distribution of face masks and awareness literature comes in the wake of continued statements of Punjab Environment Protection Department (EPD) during the past week blaming the weather and persisting smog on the air pollution generated by Indian farmers.
In a press conference held on November 3rd, EPD Minister Zakya Shahnawz and Environment Protection Agency (EPA) officials strived to explain the occurrence of smog using the oft-repeated lines of smoke emitting factories but remained curiously tight-lipped about the environmentally controversial Sahiwal Coal Power Project.
While the EPA and the provincial government strive to control the smog issue, residents continue suffering from harmful effects of smog which results in skin and eye irritations as well as respiratory problems especially for the young and elderly.
The smog also continues to wreak havoc for commuters, especially the travellers from Motorway where the visibility has plunged to 25 -50 meters from Lahore to Bhera.
Many road accidents have also been reported in various cities of Punjab due to a thick layer of smog, especially during the morning and late night hours.