Lahore has been choking under a blanket of smog for the past two days and the people of this city are incensed, as they should be. The place that was once known as the city of gardens has become a concrete jungle filled with smoke, traffic, dust and now hazardous gases that have no release due to the cold high pressure in the upper atmosphere. The smog was probably caused by unchecked burning of farmland in India, however our own ecology has been broken down to a point that such manmade disasters harm us more than they should. Thousands have complained about breathing problems, eye irritation and reduced visibility on roads, terming this event as the worst in the history of Lahore.

The smog comprising nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and other aerosols, is only made worse by the ever increasing vehicles on the expanse of highways and roads that were made at the cost of 2200 precious trees, with nefarious plans of cutting 1900 more. If this catastrophe is not a wakeup call for the provincial government, then nothing is.

The most disturbing fact is that we have no system or proper equipment for monitoring air pollution, despite the fact that Lahore ranks in the top ten cities in the world for the worst quality of air. The intensity of the problem cannot be understood or identified and hence the government is completely lost as to how it can address this live hazard. With the EPA in disarray since its director general was sacked recently, in the absence of a barely functioning body that should have declared this event as an environmental emergency, the people have no knowledge about the precautions they can take to protect themselves from this poisonous smog. Staying indoors and wearing facemasks can prevent a degree of damage to the lungs and eyes and also avoiding using your own cars and vehicles on heavy smog days is the least that can be done to prevent exacerbating the problem.