LAHORE - Irked by the Punjab government’s failure to submit details about the anti-smog steps Monday, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah summoned the environment secretary today along with complete record.

Hearing a petition by Advocate Sheraz Zaka against environmental pollution and smog, the CJ expressed his dismay at negligence on the part of government over the matter.

“The Punjab government’s performance appears to be limited to just official documents,” he remarked, adding that it was very awful that the environment department had no record of anti-smog steps.

Barrister Sara Bilal, who was appointed as amicus curie, told the court that health emergency should be enforced due to smog in Punjab. Such department should be closed, she said.

The chief justice observed that the government has not been working to cope with the challenge with the required pace.  The CJ rued Pakistan has crossed the international limited set for pollution but the government has been dragging its feet over the mamter. Earlier, the environment department presented to the court the notified copy of the smog policy.

Sheraz Zaka, the petitioner, made a request to the court to direct the authorities to adopt effective measures to fix the problem.  In another petition about rivers’ sand, the Lahore High Court declared that environment department’s surveys are important for all projects of excavating sands from rivers. The court passed the order on petition moved by a company seeking action against local administration of the provincial capital for allegedly stopping it from excavating sand from the river Ravi and taking its machinery into custody.

Rain forecast

Experts have forecast rain-thunderstorm for parts of the country, including Lahore, over the next couple of days.

Prevailing foggy/smoggy conditions in urban areas are likely to subside gradually.  Rain-thunderstorm with snowfall over the hills are expected at scattered places in northeast Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, Islamabad, upper Punjab (Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sargodha divisions), Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and at isolated places in DG Khan, Multan, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal divisions. Dense foggy/smoggy conditions are expected in plain areas of Punjab during morning hours.

Meanwhile, fog/smog continued disturbing routine life in plains of the province, including Lahore, on Monday.

Low visibility caused closure of motorway from Kot Momin to Lahore, Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad and Faisalabad to Gojra, diverting traffic to alternative routes, including the National Highway. Low visibility also disturbed vehicular movement on National Highway from Kharian to Sukkur.

Motorway and Highway Police have advised people to avoid unnecessary travelling. If unavoidable, use fog lights, ensure working of wipers, keep safe distance and drive at low speed.

Skardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 5 degree Celsius below the freezing point.  In Lahore, maximum and minimum temperature was recorded 24C and 12C, respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 74 per cent.  Excessive use of heaters in offices and homes led to low gas pressure in various parts of Lahore. In certain areas, women faced difficulties in cooking meals for their families.

Anti-dengue meeting

Minister for Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Kh Salman Rafiq chaired a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Dengue at Civil Secretariat.  Special Secretary SH&ME Dr Sajid Chohan, Special Secretary Primary & Secondary Health Dr Faisal Zahoor, Majid Zahoor MPA, Secretary Housing Khurram Aga, incharge Chief Minister Research Cell Prof Waseem Akram, Additional Director General Dengue Control Dr Farrukh Sultan, CEO Health Lahore Dr Yuzdullah, officers from PITB, Special Branch attended the meeting.

The Deputy Commissioners and CEOs Health of other districts participated in the meeting through video link. Dr Farrukh Sultan briefed the participants regarding the overall dengue situation in the province. He said 972 dengue patients have been reported this year as compared to 4300 last year. He said that dengue patients have decreased significantly in Lahore and Rawalpindi despite extra load from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad.