Mounting Smog Situation

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Air pollution continues to present one of the world’s biggest health hazards to people everywhere, contributing to about 7 million premature deaths annually. Compounding this staggering health crisis, air pollution is estimated to cost the global economy upwards of $2.9 trillion per year due to fossil fuel emissions alone, while also contributing to a range of severe environmental problems. the most dangerous form of air pollution is smog in winters. Smog occurs when smoke mixes with fog. While air pollution is a persistent issue in most urban centers in India and Pakistan, every October and November contaminates in the air in Punjab shoot up as farmers burn rice stalks or stubble left behind after harvesting to clear their fields to plant wheat. Every year, a thick smog covers India’s capital New Delhi. Last week, it got so bad for the 20 million residents that authorities shut schools. New Delhi’s concentration of PM2.5 particles, which damage people’s lungs, is 34 times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) acceptable levels. Being the urgent neighboring state, Pakistan is more vulnerable to smog after India.  For the past fortnight, smog has engulfed large swathes of land in Punjab, mostly due to the burning of stubble, vehicular and smoke from industries and several measures. The Punjab government ordered on Monday the closure of all private offices and educational institutions in Lahore on Mondays, in addition to the weekly holidays observed on Saturdays and Sundays till January 15. The Prime Minister directed the concerned departments to devise a strategy in coordination with the provincial governments to save the major cities from pollution, by taking all necessary steps, at the earliest. “A sustainable environment protection plan is need of the hour to fight pollution, especially in major cities,” Imran Khan said while chairing a meeting to counter pollution and its impact on health and related issues in the country.

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