Lahore’s smog poses one of the worst health hazards we have witnessed in a long time. Some call breathing in the air as bad as “smoking twenty cigarettes”. PM2.5 are small, harmful particles that can penetrate into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. According to statistics, their levels in the air have reached 1,077 micrograms per cubic meter. This is nearly 30 times more than what the government considers safe. But the question is, will Lahore’s smog come back next year? Let us read on further to find out.
Crop Growing and Burning Seasons
Every year, Punjab focuses on agriculture and crops during two growing seasons. These are from May to September and from November to April. Before crops are sowed, the stubble from the previous harvest needs to be cleared. For this reason, the fields are burnt. Therefore, crop burning combines with high emission and cold weather to cloud the air of Lahore in smog. Since the seasons fall at the same time every year, most of the Autumn time is affected. Even though the smog clears away towards the beginning of December, every year, these problems are getting worse, which is why there is a dire need to solve this crop burning issue.
Deforestation and Urbanization
As more and more land is being commercialized, there is hardly any forest area left in Pakistan, let alone Lahore. An example of such a project is the Kalma underpass which has caused too many trees to be cut down. Additionally, now that the Orange Line is being made, more trees are being cut down and will continue to be cut down for it. Therefore, the more urbanization and commercialization takes place, the more deforestation follows. When trees are cut, erosion occurs and the air becomes filled with dust particles. This is because there is no cover for the dust to stay settled when it becomes windy. Furthermore, every time a tree is cut, the air is deprived of a fresh source of oxygen. The more carbon dioxide fills the air, the more harmful it becomes since there will be less trees to take it in.
Excessive Motor Vehicles
Unfortunately, the issue of a lack of quality public transport prevails. In the entire Lahore, there is only one mode of public transport which is somewhat acceptable and accessible, and that is the metro transport system. But despite that, people in Pakistan prefer to own cars or motorbikes. Anything goes as long as public transport is somehow avoided. The more cars there will be, the more fuel and diesel they will emit. Moreover, the rickshaws in the city cause the worst form of air pollution. The fuels emitted from rickshaws are such that the air around them is often completely clouded by blackness. This issue is one which does not seem to be ending, but rather keeps increasing every year with the growing population.
Keeping Engines Running
As if excessive motor vehicles weren’t enough of a pollution problem, what the vehicle owners do while driving adds to the problems. The number of traffic jams in Lahore is never ending. Furthermore, there is a traffic light at every stop and turning (often ignored), in order to ensure a smooth and safe traffic flow. Engines are supposed to be shut off during this time, and ultimately, can save tonnes of extra fuel and gases to be emitted into the air. However, in Lahore, everyone is in a rush for some reason, which is why people prefer to keep their engines running at all times, whether it is a two minute wait in front of a traffic light, or an hour long wait in a traffic jam. This issue seems to be small, but is in fact a major issue being perpetrated by the very citizens of Lahore.
Harmful Chemicals in the Air
The amount of harmful chemicals in the air keeps rising every year. Nitric oxide in the air should not exceed 40mcg per cubic meter. However, there was over 306mcg/cubic meter of nitric oxide on Mall road alone during the smog period this year. PM10 levels should be less than 150, but Shahdara area saw levels exceeding 264. Furthermore, sulphur dioxide levels should not be above 120mcg /cubic meter. In Mominpura, these levels reached a shocking 1,373mcg/ cubic meter. Other than that, carbon monoxide levels should not go above 5mcg/cubic meter whereas records show that they went above and beyond those levels to an appalling 21mcg/cubic meter on Mall Road.
In conclusion, there are small things as well as big things that are being added into the list of reasons as to why smog occurs every year in Lahore. Furthermore, it is getting worse every year. This is why we see that according to current trends, it will happen again next year. This is unless it is taken far more seriously than it is being taken presently.