LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday constituted a 10-member commission to find out the reasons behind why the Punjab government has failed to control the rising level of air pollution in the province.
LHC Chief Justice (CJ) Mansoor Ali Shah constituted the commission on different writ petitions filed against the Punjab government amid rising air pollution and the recent toxic spell of smog in the provincial metropolis and other parts of the province.
During yesterday’s hearing, Environment Protection Department (EPD) Secretary Saif Anjum appeared before the court. He told the court that Lahore was facing an extreme level of air pollution which hit hard in the months of November and December in shape of smog.
Saif Anjum informed the court that according to the data released by NASA and World Bank, smog was prevailing in the city since 2010. He admitted that since 2010, the EPD could not make any preparation to curb the menace of smog until its exigency in 2016.
The counsel of the civil society, Advocate Azhar Siddique argued that EPD could not monitor the air quality in the province due to its substandard equipment. Over this the secretary replied that EPD had published air quality data of recent months on its website.
Azhar Siddique argued that the data provided or published by EPD was fake and forged. He further argued that the hazardous level of pollution had become fatal for the residents of the city, but EPD still had to make any efforts to combat pollution. The court was also told that EPD had notified the smog policy in the official gazette while there was no scientific data available to determine air pollution level at present.
Another petitioner Advocate Shiraz Shaka read the court’s order regarding the implementation of smog policy. While showing his displeasure over the situation, the chief justice remarked that the quarters concerned were ordered to update the air quality data on a daily basis, but EPD could not do so. He observed that the environment department should be closed if it could not produce genuine air quality data.
The EPD secretary further submitted that action had been initiated against owners of industrial units who were contributing greatly towards greenhouse gas emissions. Further, awareness campaigns had also been initiated on the media and in schools to overcome the negative health impacts of smog.
The chief justice observed that in the past few years hundreds of trees have been chopped in the city due to ongoing development projects. He resented the fact that the EPD secretary was not serious in enforcing the laws by trying to put the burden of blame on India for rising pollution in the country.
After hearing arguments of both sides, the chief justice ordered to constitute a 10-member commission under the supervision of Dr Pervez Hassan before the middle of January 2018. The court later adjourned the case for the next three weeks.