Vehicles move amid dense smog in Lahore on November 24, 2021. Image Credit: REUTERS

Islamabad: Pakistan’s second most populated city after Karachi is now the world’s most polluted city and this title it has gained for the third time during the current week.

The city earlier won the infamous ranking on November 13 and November 2.

Known as the cultural capital of the country, Lahore is now seen as a city of smoke and smog with a particulate matter (PM) rating of 203 on the US AQI scale, followed by Mongolia’s city Ulaanbaatar (175) and India’s Kolkata and New Delhi (174).

Karachi stood fifth in the list of most polluted cities in the world with an AQI of 173.

During the past weeks, Lahore and New Delhi have been changing the rank with Dhaka and Karachi taking their places occasionally and remained among the top three haziest cities of the world.

Increasing smog and particle-laden air has sickened thousands of people with respiratory and other illnesses, forcing people to stay at home on particularly smoggy days like Wednesday.

Lahore admin seals steel plants emitting smoke

In order to deal with smog and fog problems, the Lahore district administration has taken a number of steps including shutting down of private and public-sector schools in Lahore thrice a week (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) and closing down a number of mills and plants emitting smoke.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Lahore Umer Sher Chattha in a tweet shared that the city district administration had shut down a number of steel and welding plants contributing to the hazardous AQI.

“We are ensuring that all the multi-national companies remain closed in the five Tehsils (sub-divisions) of the District Lahore besides taking strict action against smoke-emitting vehicles,” said the DC in a tweet.

The district administration has already imposed the Section 144 throughout the province as part of the efforts to combat the smog.

Under section 144, the burning of crop residue and garbage have been banned across the province for one month from Oct 6.

Health issues as smog engulfs city

As the weather is turning cold, smog has started engulfing the provincial metropolis gradually, blurring vision and causing serious health problems for citizens.

A senior officer of the environment department claimed that smog was caused due to massive crop burning from the neighbouring Indian border villages. According to health officials, there could be several scientific studies on the link between diseases and pollution.

They might include premature death in people with heart or lung disease, non-fatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, lung malfunctioning, increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty in breathing.