LAHORE - Delay in presenting smog policy by the Punjab government Wednesday dismayed Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. Directing the government lawyer to come up with the policy on the next hearing, the chief justice said one year passed and winter is about to set in but smog policy has not been devised. He was hearing a petition seeking directives for the provincial government to implement a smog policy for larger public interest.

PTI’s Barrister Walid Iqbal moved the petition, saying: “The reason behind smog was lack of enforcement of environmental laws and dysfunctional central laboratory in Lahore because of negligence on the part of Punjab Environmental Protection Agency.” But, the petitioner continued, the government created misconception that smog transpired due to burning of agricultural waste in Indian province of Punjab. He said that the government had not taken any adequate awareness measures. He submitted that fundamental rights of citizens were at stake and similar situation was witnessed in London when several deaths occurred through smog in 1952. He submitted that it was Punjab government’s failure to control rampant industrialization in urban areas that was the main reason behind the prevailing weather condition of dense smog in Lahore. He said the World Health Organization (WHO) had already ranked Lahore city among top ten polluted cities of the world. He submitted that due to increasing urbanisation and expansion of the city, the increasing industrial activities and motor vehicular emissions have resulted into massive environmental pollution affecting the right of life of citizens guaranteed under article 9 of the constitution.

He said 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 the 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 issue. The court would resume hearing on Oct 20.