Lahore - Now that smog is hurting us again this year, there is some activism among the citizenry and pressure on authorities to do something about it. And they, as usual, are waiting for the crunch time to pass – most probably, officials at the Punjab environment department and the so-called Environment PROTECTION Agency (EPA) must be waiting for rain as much as the farmers would do during times of drought.
Pushed by the Lahore High Court, as the result of a case filed last year, the environment department has finally come up with 10-page eyewash.
The notification of “Policy on Controlling Smog 2017”, as it has been named, will be presented before the LHC chief justice by the babus on Nov 8. If this worthless piece of paper satisfies the court, it will be just another case where the officialdom will successfully be duping the court as well as the people.
More than being a problem itself, smog, more importantly, is a manifestation of a bigger problem – environmental pollution. This problem is there all year round but is made more visible and painful around winter in the form of smog.
The question that court should be asking the relevant authorities should not be just about smog, which is relatively a newer phenomenon for Punjab’s heavily industrialised areas. Instead, they must be asked what they have done, in practical terms, to control environmental pollution over the years, and why those steps, if any, have failed to produce any result – since pollution is constantly on the rise.
They would cite enhanced developmental work as a key reason for the sharp increase in pollution, and try to shift the blame for other major contributing factors like industrialisation, population increase and sharp rise in number of vehicles. But this is exactly where the very reason of their existence should be questioned. If the plethora of departments and agencies established to protect environment can’t stop the political and industrial interests from playing with people’s health and their very lives, why waste huge public funds on them.
The problem is has not emerged overnight and it will definitely take years to solve. But it doesn’t take one to be an environmental expert to know that the problem has aggravated over the years than inching towards any solution.
It’s about the present and future of this nation, and something positive done about Lahore’s pollution would become an example for other cities to follow. The court therefore must not let it go!