LAHORE - Punjab Environment Minister Zakia Shahnawaz has said that instructions have been issued to all field formations of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and relevant departments for adopting measures to control air pollution and smog as per their role specified in the Smog Policy.

Addressing a press conference at Directorate General Public Relations Friday, she said that 197 FIRs have been registered for stubble and solid waste burning. Environment Secretary Saif Anjum, Special Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Faisal Zahoor, Additional Secretary Environment Muhammad Zaman Watto, Additional Secretary Technical Dr Salman Shahid, Director EPA Naseem-ur-Rehan Shah and President All Pakistan Brick Kiln Owners Association Shoaib Khan Niazi were also present.

The minister said that 175 polluting industrial units have been sealed. She said that 15718 smoke emitting vehicles have been challaned, imposing fine of Rs4.3 million. She urged all Chambers of Commerce & Industry to issue instructions to all industrialists to stop use of substandard fuel and install pollution abatement equipment.

Saif Anjum briefed media about causes of smog and possible measures to overcome the crisis.

“Smog is a type of air pollution, originally derived its name from the mixture of smoke and fog in the air. Photochemical smog is derived from coal, vehicular and industrial emissions, forest and agricultural fires and photochemical reactions of these emissions. Stubble burning in agricultural areas is another major cause of smog especially in Punjab. The ideal conditions for the formation of smog are calm winds and air pollutants. Depending upon the tranquility (calmness) of air, the Smog once formed can stay there for several days hence causing severe health problems and road accidents due to reduced visibility. Highly populated cities and agricultural areas of Punjab usually witness smog during winter season when air pollution from vehicular emission, solid waste burning and stubble burning reacts with calm air to form smog.

He urged Home Department and Deputy Commissioners to implement ban on stubble burning. EPA officers have been directed to take action against industries and brick kilns using substandard fuel and running units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors, he said, adding, EPD was working for introduction of environment friendly brick kiln technology with the collaboration of All Pakistan Brick Kiln Owners Association.

Shoaib Khan Niazi said that the association was working with EPD to explore cost effective and environment friendly technology. He said that the association has visited Nepal this year and studied Zig Zag Firing Brick Kilns in Khatmandu.