LAHORE - A meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Akbar Durrani Tuesday decided to launch an operation to protect environment as part of Punjab government’s efforts to combat smog.

Burning of stubble and garbage is banned while old technology coal-fired brick-kilns across the province would be closed down from October to December.

Addressing the meeting, the chief secretary said immediate steps are being taken to fend off looming threat.  . He added that the government is prohibiting use of substandard fuel in factories, and similarly there would also be a ban on burning of crop stubble and garbage. He directed all the relevant departments to strictly implement the instructions on smog control, adding that no negligence would be tolerated in this regard. Controlling environmental pollution is a service to humanity, he remarked.

The environment secretary told the meeting that old BTK technology brick kilns would be kept closed from October to December and only new Zig Zag technology brick kilns would be allowed to operate. Strict action would be taken against the violators, he added.

He said that the Environment Department has also banned construction of new brick kilns having BTK technology and now only Zig Zag technology brick kilns can be set up that would reduce environmental pollution by 70 percent and use of coal by 30 percent. He maintained that a team of Nepali experts have been invited to Pakistan to make brick kilns owner aware of Zig Zag technology and this team is conducting awareness workshops in different cities. He said that so far 178 steel mills and 36 brick kilns have been shut down for causing air pollution whereas 23 steel mills have got installed dry scrubbers (equipment to control pollution).

Separately, a four-member delegation of UK Department for International Development (DFID) headed by Jinal Shah called on Punjab Chief Secretary Akbar Durrani at Civil Secretariat.

Cooperation in the fields of health, education, law, justice and other sectors was discussed in the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Secretary said that collaboration between the Punjab government and DFID was successfully underway in the areas of education, health and skill development. He said that there was a need to enhance cooperation between Punjab government and UK's department.

DFID Lahore head Jinal Shah briefed the Chief Secretary about the project being executed in the province with the help of his organization and thanked the Punjab government for extending full cooperation.