LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Thursday gave another chance to Smog Commission to submit final report on a petition questioning environmental pollution in Punjab.

Justice Ayesha A Malik of the LHC was hearing the petition when Commission head Dr Pervez Hassan appeared before the court and pleaded that the committee constituted earlier had submitted their recommendations while the final report would soon be submitted which. The commission said the report would be completed in the first week of June.

At this, the court accepted the plea and gave another chance to the commission for report on Smog and related environmental issues.

On April 17, Justice Malik had ordered the commission to appear in person and submit report as to what measures had been taken so far to stave off the contagious effects of Environmental degradation. The court put off further proceedings until June 09.  In another interconnected matter, the judge disposed of petitions against cutting of trees in the provincial capital when Park and Horticulture Authority submitted its report that 27510 trees had been planted in the city.  The secretary environment verified the report only to the extent that 3200 trees had been planted which were stripped off during construction of Orange train project. The PHA counsel said that 27510 trees had been planted across, Punjab.

EPA had assured the court in its report that all appropriate measures would be taken to implement the undertaking in pith and substance that for every cutting of a tree ten more trees would be planted. Justice Malik appreciated the efforts of PHA and EPA for complying with the environmental laws and taking an important step for enforcement of fundamental rights of the citizens.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, the petitioner’s counsel, said Punjab government had given an understanding before the Supreme Court that for every cutting of a tree it would plant ten trees. He said but Lahore had become one of the polluted cities of the world. He argued that in 1952, London faced huge smog after which Environmental laws were enforced. He said London authorities also implemented Clean Air Act 1956 and in order to curb air and noise pollution during the times of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, coal industry in entire Britain was closed off.

The lawyer said in Pakistan the reason behind the smog was the lack of enforcement of environmental laws and dysfunctional central laboratory in Lahore which is due to the negligence of Punjab environmental protection agency. He had submitted that the government had not taken any adequate awareness measures amongst the public.

He had said that the Punjab environmental protection agency failed to perform its statutory obligations and enforce pollution charge rules and the federal government was flouting its international obligations under Paris Agreement 2015.He pointed out that even EPA testing laboratory was not functioning.

He requested that the provincial government and environmental protection agency should be asked whether the industrial activity taking place in the city was being scrutinized under Pollution Charge Rules 2001 or the agency is performing its statutory obligations. He also requested to inquire from the authorities as to what remedial measures have been taken to address the prevailing weather condition arising from the toxic smog.