A view of a smog in Karachi, Pakistan, 18 March 2022. EFE-EPA/FILE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

Pakistan orders daylong closure of businesses, schools due to worsening air pollution

Islamabad, Nov 8 (EFE).- Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province ordered on Wednesday the closure of businesses and schools on Nov. 10, a day after declaring a state of emergency over the worsening levels of air pollution.

The provincial government issued a notification announcing the shutdown in selected districts of Punjab, home to more than 112 million people.

“It is notified for general information that a public holiday shall be observed on Friday” in eight districts of Punjab, the notification read.

A day earlier, the government imposed an environmental and health emergency in Lahore, Gujranwala, and Hafizabad divisions from Nov. 9 to Nov. 12.

Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said on Tuesday that all educational institutions, government and private offices, cinemas, parks, and restaurants would close for four days from Tuesday.

However, wedding halls, bakeries, pharmacies, public transport, construction work, and factories will remain open, he said.

The chief minister said Lahore was in dire need of environmental rest, as respiratory and eye diseases were occurring.

He urged people to wear masks when they go out.

Naqvi said crop residue burning in Indian Punjab was affecting the air quality of Pakistan.

“India burns four times more crop residues than Pakistan, which increases smog,” the chief minister said.

According to Swiss group IQAir, Lahore became the worst city in the world on Wednesday, with the air quality index at a “hazardous” 406, followed by India’s capital, New Delhi, at 380.

Growing industrialization with forest areas squeezing and urbanization has caused air pollution to increase, making it one of the major challenges for the regional governments of South Asia. EFE