Shehbaz Sharif seeks Indian help to combat smog

  • "I would like to invite you for entering into a regional cooperation arrangement to tackle the issue of smog as well as environmental pollution," write the Punjab CM in his letter to Amarinder Singh
Pakistan

LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has written a letter to Captain Amarinder Singh, the CM of Indian Punjab, seeking a “regional cooperation arrangement” to combat the issue of smog which has caused difficulties on both sides of the border.

The letter written by Shehbaz Sharif was tweeted by @govtofpunjab on Tuesday and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was also tagged. The office of Amarinder Singh is apparently aware of the tweet and is preparing a reply to be sent to the Punjab (Pakistan) CM.

In his letter, CM Shehbaz has said there was a need to join hands to tackle not only the issue of smog, but also of environmental pollution. “I would like to invite you for entering into a regional cooperation arrangement to tackle the issue of smog as well as environmental pollution. Let us join hands for securing a prosperous future for the people of our two provinces,” the letter read.

The CM said the menace of smog only got worse each year and spread far beyond its place of origin. “The main causes of smog range from vehicular and industrial emissions to rice stubble burning. The phenomenon has now assumed regional proportions and it now engulfs areas from New Delhi to Lahore and beyond. You will agree with me that the problem is essentially scientific and economic and cannot be tackled through other means,” Shehbaz Sharif said.

Deadly Smog

Parts of Pakistan had been enveloped by deadly smog in recent weeks, with the city of Lahore suffering almost as badly as the Indian capital Delhi.

At its peak, Lahore’s levels of PM 2.5, the particles most damaging to health, were more than 30 times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) safe limit. According to WHO figures, in Pakistan during 2012, nearly 60,000 people died because of PM2.5 particles in the atmosphere.

The causes of the air pollution are a combination of vehicle and industrial emissions, construction, seasonal dust, and crop burning. Analysts say because the causes and consequences of air pollution are not limited to a single nation state, it is time for cooperation between India and Pakistan to address the issue.

Environmentalists say with Lahore suffering from air pollution almost equal to that enveloping Delhi, joint action to tackle the problem is urgently needed.