Schools closure | Punjab finds a strange solution to smog

Schools closure | Punjab finds a strange solution to smog

Instead of taking effective measures against the elements responsible for pollution, educational institutions have been closed down

Coronavirus pandemic affected the education system the most in the world. Educational institutions in Pakistan remained closed for several months and the children were sent to the next classes on the basis of previous records. Thanks to the pandemic, the students did not take classes or complete the syllabus for the whole year but when the matriculation results came out, the marks of hundreds of students across the country were eleven hundred out of eleven hundred. Even Arts (Urdu ‘History’ Study Pakistan) student’s performance was excellent. This happened for the first time in the history of Pakistan and people will remember these results for centuries to come.
The Lahore administration has announced closure of public and private educational institutions three days a week due to smog. Instead of taking effective measures against the elements responsible for pollution, educational institutions have been closed down. But the question remains whether the pollution in the city will not be affected for three days and the remaining four days the children will leave their homes and spread the pollution. The Punjab government deserves the Nobel Prize for inventing this recipe for eliminating pollution and protecting the nation’s infants from seasonal diseases in addition to air pollution. If pollution increases further in December and January, educational institutions will have to close all week, and it is to be hoped that children who complete their education during the smog holidays will set a new world record next year, scoring 1150 out of 1100 marks.
In our childhood we used to pray for the illness of our teachers or parents to enjoy the holidays which was never accepted. When educational institutions were closed due to Coronavirus, the children started praying for the length of this ominous epidemic. Was this collective prayer accepted by nature? The children rejoiced for many months. Now it’s smog’s turn. Parents are praying for an end to smog in the morning and in the evening. It suspends business life for a few weeks, but the children will want smog to strike every year so that they could have time to play in the streets.
Air pollution is not just our problem. In the last few decades, many countries have fallen victim to it and they have overcome it with precautionary measures. London and Beijing once became almost uninhabitable due to air pollution, air traffic was suspended at Heathrow and Beijing airports, but effective measures were taken by the British and Chinese governments. Factories that cause air pollution have been moved away, the traffic system has been improved and everything that emits smoke has been shut down.
The Chinese government has decided to build a new city, more or less 100 kilometers away, to ease the population burden on Beijing, which is nearing completion, and it is claimed that this digital city, larger than New York, is being built keeping in view the requirements of the next thousand years. In Pakistan, however, the cure for every ailment is sought in yet more ailments. When incidents of terrorism increased in Lahore, it was found out that two terrorists were riding on motorcycles. Double riding was banned. When the tragedy of Army Public School took place, educational institutions across the country were ordered to raise the walls and install barbed wirea on them.
The present government has taken various measures for three years to eradicate pollution. It has banned burning of crop residues and operation of smoke emitting vehicles. Orders have been issued to transfer brick kilns to ZigZag technology. The Chief Minister was not questioned about the owners but the report was received that every kiln has Zig Zag technology and is running on coal. Checking department officials, however, minted enough money.
The same is true of smoke-emitting vehicles. In a country where incentives for the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles have been announced three and a half years ago, people have ordered expensive electric vehicles, but so far no mechanism has been set up for their registration. Probably, it is not the first priority of the government and its institutions.
Chief Minister Buzdar, Chief Secretary Punjab and Punjab Environment Minister should one day get out of their safe havens, go to the densely populated areas of Lahore and chase the smoky motorcycles, rickshaws, cars and trucks. They may also check the bogus ZigZag technology in kilns in Patoki, Okara and other areas. They must see with their own eyes the black smoke rising from the chimneys of factories and furnaces on Defense Road, Sheikhupura Road around Lahore and then read the reports of the agencies and personnel responsible for controlling environmental pollution. But who would bother and why? The only solution they have found to check smog is closing of schools!