When winter arrives, it completely engulfs Lahore and much of the Punjab province in smog and fog, forcing most Lahoris to wear masks, suffer from bad coughs, and cause the air quality index to fall to its lowest level. We now link the winter season with a different kind of painful memory, and it is not as enthusiastically anticipated as it once was.
We are fortunate to see practically all of mother nature’s colors while growing up in the city of Lahore. The city of gardens and the administrative center of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Lahore, has its own distinct style, colors, and scents. Lahore stands out from the other cities in Pakistan because of its vitality.
Even before the time of the Mughals, it served as the hub of cultural activity. Every season is characterized by celebrations. The start of spring heralds the beginning of months-long cultural and historical events. The arrival of summer is heralded by colorful flowers and a variety of celebrations. With an estimated 110 million inhabitants, Punjab is the most populous province in Pakistan. In 2020, five Punjabi cities were ranked among the top 50 polluting cities worldwide. With Lahore’s fine particle count consistently rising well beyond 40 times the World Health Organization’s recommended levels for air quality, the current situation there is very concerning.
There are many causes for the rapidly worsening air quality in cities like Lahore. Vehicle emissions, industrial pollution, fossil fuel-fired power plants, the burning of garbage, and the burning of coal by thousands of brick kilns dispersed around the province are all contributing factors to the issue. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2020 source appropriation research specifically names the transportation industry and power producers as offenders. Due to a hasty plan to develop motorways, underpasses, and overpasses, Lahore has lost a sizeable percentage of its forestation over the previous ten years.
Due to extensive gasoline adulteration and a lack of vehicle inspections, many of the city’s growing auto sales emit harmful pollutants when driving. Even the pure fuel that is sold in Lahore is of poor quality. This issue has not only caused chaos in Pakistan, but it has also affected the Punjab region of neighboring India, where living is rendered impossible during the winter months by deadly pollution. Governments in both nations have made some significant efforts in recent years to prevent farmers from burning stubble. It has significantly reduced the amount of smoke in the air.
Brick kilns are a major contributor to the smog in Punjab as well. The most recent survey estimates that Punjab alone is home to over 8,000 brick kilns. It was stated that practically all of these kilns were upgraded to a new eco-friendly technology termed “zigzag” under the previous administration. The innovative technique lets kiln owners save 30% more money while producing 60% fewer carbon emissions. The Natural Draught Zigzag firing kiln is a continuous, cross-draught, moving fire kiln where the air travels in a zigzag direction because of the draught given by a chimney, which is worth highlighting here.
Lahore, which is ironically referred to as the “city of gardens,” has been painfully suffocating on toxic air in the lack of comprehensive and consistent attempts to tackle air pollution. To alleviate the suffering of smog for the people of Punjab, particularly Lahore, all efforts should be commended.
We have a responsibility to protect the ecosystem around our city as inhabitants. The rubbish should be disposed of responsibly, and we should work with the local environmental authorities. We must reduce pollution from transportation. Even though there is currently fewer smog spews, we still need to exercise extreme caution.
Let’s hope that our city of gardens and our Punjab province will once again experience the splendor of this season. Let’s hope that this winter will be much safer and cleaner.