When we hear about the arrival of the winter season, smog is the first thing that comes to our mind. As the weather is getting cooler, the air quality is deteriorating. The atmosphere in Lahore has become so toxic that it is unwise to go out for work and other activities. Responding to worsening air quality, the government has finally decided to come into action. On the one hand, the Ministry of Climate Change established a “Smog Control Room” in Lahore to monitor the Air Quality Index and health hazards caused by smog. On the other, Lahore Traffic Police have also started penalising vehicles that produce heavy smoke.

Undoubtedly, such steps are essential to address the air quality issue. Nevertheless, they are not sufficient enough to offer a permanent solution to the recurring problem of smog. Issuing challans to smoke emitting vehicles is equivalent to attempting to stop a boat from sinking by using a bucket. The question worth asking is this: Why do authorities wait to respond to any calamity only after it hits us? What steps did the government officials take all these years, especially after the smog commission had recommended some urgent steps in 2018? Why does the government prefer ad-hoc solutions?

This is not to say that early actions would have eliminated smog. However, if we had started taking preventive measures last year, the air quality would have much improved this year. It’s the third winter season that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is in power. Yet, no concrete measures have been taken by the administration to address the smog issue. Needless to say, that if we want to avoid smog in future, then we must continue with keeping a check throughout the year on things and activities that cause winter smog.