Pakistan's Lahore faces smog with AQI touching 447; Punjab province govt orders closure of schools amid criticism for lack of action

FP Staff

As the level of air pollution escalated again in Delhi after a short respite, the situation of air quality was no better across the border in Pakistan's Lahore, reports indicated on Wednesday. According to pollution mapping websites, Delhi recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 473 which falls under the 'hazardous' category, while Lahore recorded an AQI of of 316 which is categorised as 'very unhealthy', at the time of publishing.

Earlier on Wednesday, air pollution in Lahore was categorised in the 'hazardous' category with a recorded AQI of 447. An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 is categorised as 'satisfactory', 101-200 is 'moderate', 201-300 is 'poor', 301-400 is 'very poor', while 401-500 falls under 'severe'. Above 500 is severe-plus and qualifies to be declared as an emergency.

Pakistani daily Dawn reported that for the last four years, "layers of toxic smoke" have descended on the city in the Punjab province from November to February. "Government officials blame the smog on crop burning in India. Experts, however, say that the situation is caused by pollution in the country," the report said.

However, the report added that the situation of smog this year has worsened this year and the Punjab province government has ordered a closure of schools as it comes under fire from residents for insufficient action in preventing a severe situation of smog in the region.

In Delhi too, the closure of schools was announced on Wednesday, as air quality in the National Capital hovered close to emergency levels. The Supreme Court-mandated anti-pollution authority EPCA has ordered the closure for two days starting from Thursday.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) also advised people to avoid outdoor exposure and work from home. "Keeping in mind the hazardous exposure to children, the CPCB Task Force has recommended, which the EPCA is directing, that all schools must remain shut for the next two days," the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority said in a letter to the chief secretaries of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.

The ban on the hot-mix plants and stone-crushers in Delhi-NCR has been extended till the morning of 15 November, the statement said.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Delhi pollution: Experts say immediate action needed to ensure pollution-free Diwali and winter next year

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