The smog that has covered the country throughout makes for a pretty sight; however, the price of this beauty is very high. Since last year, environmentalists have been predicting the lethal implications of the smog masquerading as fog, and now some of those after-effects are starting to show.

Smog — a chemical reaction that causes air to be significantly polluted and hinders visibility- has started causing disruptions across the country. Various power plants tripped due to smog, causing prolonged electricity outages in different cities, primarily in Punjab. The Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) has announced to carry out scheduled load-shedding every hour today. The duration of power outages in many cities of Sindh has also been extended.

The menace of the smog has become fatal-claiming 13 lives in road-side accidents in Layyah, Sheikhupura, Muzaffargarh and Kasur on Friday. Drop in temperatures has caused thickening of the fog, which lowers level in the morning and evening to zero at highways, bringing both road and air traffic to a halt, with several local and international flights being cancelled. The smog also has adverse effects on citizens’ health, causing difficulty in breathing, skin and eye irritation.

With the looming threat of environmental pollution, it is disappointing to see the government’s lax attitude towards the smog problem, especially considering this is the second year in a row that smog is negatively affecting people’s health. Environment Minister Zakia Shahnawaz termed it a regional phenomenon being caused mainly by pollutants from neighbouring countries, mainly India, and Environment Secretary Saif Anjum said the smog’s intensity was less than last year and that it was not a big deal to worry.

While we certainly don’t advocate a national panic over the smog, it is not true that the smog is not an alarming sign, considering the above fatalities. While it is true that a large source of air pollution comes from Indian farmers burning their crops, the increased traffic of Pakistan and its factories are also huge remitters of pollution. The government’s steps to curb pollution last year by taking action against crop burners was a good step; however, as evidenced by the resurgence of the smog this year, it was not enough.