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Wednesday, May 22, 2024  
13 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Smog forces closure of schools in 10 Punjab districts on Saturday

Shops, markets, gyms, and cinemas will open after 3pm
Children walk to school in heavy smog in Lahore on Nov. 6, 2017. AFP
Children walk to school in heavy smog in Lahore on Nov. 6, 2017. AFP

The caretaker Punjab government has decided to shut all educational institutions – including schools, colleges, and universities – in 10 districts of the province on November 18 (Saturday) to tackle the smog that has engulfed the cities.

According to a notification issued on Thursday, the provincial government said that markets, shops, gyms, and cinemas would open after 3pm.

The 10 districts where educational institutions would be closed are Lahore, Gujranwala, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad, and Mandi Bahuddin.

There shall be “restricted movement” in the above mentioned areas having highest air quality index (AQI) and potential hotspots for conjunctivitis due to smog, according to the notification

The decision comes three days after the Lahore High Court ordered that all office workers should work from home two days per week as a measure against air pollution and smog.

While hearing petitions against environmental pollution and smog in Lahore, the court remarked that the government had committed a “mistake” by initiating development projects and work should instead be pushed to February.

The bench also said that the government should take steps to promote cycling as a ‘culture’.

This is not the first time such a decision has been taken. Last week, caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi announced four weekly holidays for education institutions and two holidays for businesses and public offices in the province.

CM Naqvi had blamed the burning of crop waste in India for the deteriorating environmental conditions of the province.

Earlier, it was proposed that educational institutions should be closed on Wednesday to break the cycle of the high air quality index.

“When we see the historic trend, our AQI level starts to increase on Monday and it rises to its maximum till Friday. It falls the next two days due to day offs. We thought that if AQI reaches a hazardous level then we will bring this day off on Wednesday to break its peak,” caretaker Minister of Planning and Development, Forrest Wildlife and Fisheries & Environmental Protection Bilal Afzal said on October 6.

According to Afzal, the transport contributed 45% to the smog.

“If this 45% rate gets a day to decimate then our AQI level does not go on that level that’s why the cabinet committee on smog will meet every week to see when we have to have taken that break so that our AQI level does not go on hazardous level,” the minister had said.

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