The Indian government has declared a health emergency as the air quality in Delhi reaches hazardous levels. Schools have been shut down till next Tuesday to avoid exposing children to such air quality. Such efforts on part of the Indian government show how seriously the government is responding to the crisis of smog as opposed to its counterpart here in Pakistan. The situation in Lahore right now is worse than Delhi but the government neither recognises the problem nor is coming up with ideas to solve it. Chief Minister in India Arvind Kejriwal on Friday distributed over 50 lakh masks to school children and appealed to other residents to use them too. This is the most simple yet effective step any government can take in order to buy time and manage the situation - a solution our government can look into too.

Very similar to the Pakistani government though, the Indian government blamed neighbouring countries for the poor air condition in their own country. Adjoining countries need to take charge of the crop burning that persists within their borders and discourage the activity to prevent any damage within their own land and their neighbour’s land. Several countries have also come up with innovative solutions to their smog problem. If we look at our ally, China, their most polluted city, Shijiazhuang, has an annual mean of 305 micrograms per metre cubed. In order to fight this, Dutch inventor Daan Roosegaarde created a seven metre-high ‘Smog Free Tower. It is a giant, outdoor air purifier. In much the same way that static electricity can make loose hair stick to a comb, airborne particles are sucked into the tower where they receive a positive charge. The particles are then captured by a negatively charged dust-removal plate and clean air is blown out of the other end.

Berlin-based architect Allison Dring, director of Elegant Embellishments, had an alternative solution to Mexico’s air pollution. Dring created a coral like structure that captures light and wind from all sides and converts nitrogen dioxide to nitric acid. This nitric acid is then neutralised into a harmless salt that is ultimately washed away by rain. The government of Pakistan also needs to invest in the well being of its citizens. Smog is not a new issue and is certainly not one they can continue to ignore. If Lahore becomes a hub of disease, it will impact economic growth.