Pakistan

LAHORE – Smog thickened to a critical level over Punjab on Monday, disrupting road and air traffic across the province and creating health problems for the people.

The Motorway and National Highways Authority reported the reduction of visibility on the roads from zero to 50 meters last night, making travel risky.

Its spokesman Imran Shah again reported in the evening closure of the motorway from Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad and from Faisalabad to Gojra at 8:30 because of poor visibility. The vehicles running on the motorway were guided out. He said thick fog was covering the national highway from Lahore to Dera Ismail Khan.

Flight operations too were disrupted during the early hours of Monday. Airports all over the province were expected to be closed down at night because of the expected dense smog. Many flights could not land at Lahore, Multan and other airports on Saturday morning due to unfavourable aviation conditions, causing problems to the passengers.

Environment Secretary Saif Anjum said local contributions to smog had been reduced considerably because of government steps. The inversion level, the level of upper layer caused by pollutants from India, was 600 meters while the level of pollutants below was decreasing, he said.

To prove his claim, he showed current readings of five air quality monitoring units in Lahore, indicating the reduction in sulphur dioxide released by steel mills burning used tyres and other unsafe material. Similarly, the level dust particles and hydrosulphite (pungent foul smell from drains) too had been reduced due to strict regulatory regime.