On Wednesday, the Lahore High Court hinted that a week-long closure will be ordered for schools and private offices in the provincial metropolis due to the poor air quality index (AQI).
Hearing various public interest petitions on environmental issues, Judge Shahid Karim observed that the air quality index worsened to dangerous levels that made the entire city one of the most polluted in the world.
The judge noted that desperate times call for desperate measures and a city-wide health emergency must be imposed. A director of the Punjab Disaster Management Authority told the court that there had been a decrease in smog over the past week. He expected the contamination to continue to decrease over the next week.
A judicial water commission also presented its report to the court, revealing that notices had been issued to 47 sugar mills in the province for causing air pollution and not installing water treatment plants.
Attorney Azhar Siddique, on behalf of a petitioner, argued that the provincial government had not fulfilled its legal obligations to control pollution. Representing another petitioner, attorney Sheraz Zaka said the commissioner should shut down factories that cause air pollution and smog. He said the government also did not punish people involved in burning stubble.
Judge Karim praised the efforts of the traffic police to control traffic congestion and allow the free flow of traffic. Mayor Mubashir Javed informed the court of the measures taken against absorption in the city. He said several blocked roads had been reopened to traffic.
The judge postponed the hearing until the following week and ordered PDMA officials and others to prepare for the shutdown if the AQI remained poor. On the other hand, Judge Karim resolved multiple petitions in which the police were ordered not to interfere in the legal business of oil deposits that were allegedly involved in the sale of adulterated low-quality petroleum products and, therefore, they contributed to air pollution.