On Tuesday, Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi announced that districts in the province affected by smog would observe a four-day holiday, as reported by Aaj News.
Punjab announces 4-day holiday to deal with smog challenge
The holiday period is set to begin on Thursday (Iqbal Day) and extend through Sunday, as stated by CM Naqvi. In a press conference, he declared a business holiday for offices and schools on November 10 in Lahore division, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Kasur, Nankana Sahib districts, and Hafizabad. November 9 had already been declared a public holiday.
During the three-day period, starting from Friday to Sunday, restaurants, cinemas, and all types of parks will be closed. However, bakeries, pharmacies, and marriage lawns will remain open.
Last week, the Lahore High Court instructed the caretaker government of Punjab to declare a smog emergency in the provincial metropolis due to consistently hazardous air quality.
Punjab govt declares four-day holiday amid smog wave
In a related development, Commissioner Lahore Muhammad Ali Randhawa proposed the construction of cycling lanes and parking stands on significant parts of Mall Road, Canal Bank Road, Jail Road, Main Boulevard Gulberg, and Ferozepur Road.
IQ Air reported alarming Air Quality Index (AQI) readings for Lahore (374) and Multan (442). Unhealthy AQI readings were also noted in Pindi Bhattian and Rawalpindi.
Sensitive groups, with an AQI between 101 and 150, are considered unhealthy, 151 to 200 as unhealthy, 201 to 300 as very unhealthy, and 301 to 500 as dangerous.
CM Naqvi, in a previous press conference, labeled Lahore as the “worst smog-hit city” globally. He highlighted complaints of respiratory difficulties and eye infections in children.
Schools are typically closed on Saturdays and Sundays, but if open this Saturday, they will be requested to remain closed. Markets will be closed on Saturdays, and merchants may choose to close on Fridays, according to CM Naqvi’s statement.
Naqvi urged people to wear masks, especially children and the elderly. He clarified that factories would not be closed. The chief minister attributed the deteriorating air quality to neighboring India, stating that India burns more crop residue than Pakistan, affecting the border region.