As winter approaches, Pakistan’s anti-smog squads are focusing on factories.


As winter approaches, Pakistan’s anti-smog squads are focusing on factories.

The anti-smog squad van careens through Lahore’s suffocating traffic, on its way to track down industries spewing smoke — an apparently useless job in one of the world’s most polluted cities.

An armed escort sits inside the white car, protecting the six members of the squad, who are holding a list of locations they aim to visit that day.

They look for telltale plumes of poisonous smoke that signal a factory is breaking environmental laws in the grey, overcast sky.

“All we have to do is follow the smoke to find the source; we don’t even need the lists,” Ali Ijaz, the environment department official in charge of the new operation, which will last for a month until mid-December, adds.

The five squads are the latest effort by authorities in Lahore, which is close to the Indian border, to reduce an annual pollution increase that has left more than 11 million citizens gasping for air.

According to Ijaz, they plan to visit 300 industrial factories in the huge metropolis that have been recognized as causing the most pollution.

In recent years, air quality in India and Pakistan has deteriorated, with hazardous pollution caused by a mix of low-grade diesel fumes and smoke from seasonal crop burn-off, which is exacerbated by the lower temperatures.

Lahore is consistently recognized as one of the most polluted cities in the world, frequently topping daily rankings.

The poor air quality can cause a variety of breathing problems, ranging from irritation to respiratory tract and heart illness.

Authorities, on the other hand, have been hesitant to respond, blaming the haze on arch-rival India or saying that the figures are overstated.

Pollution has arrived earlier than normal this year, blanketing the city in sluggish, nasty grey air for days. Usman Buzdar, the provincial chief minister, described it as a “calamity” last week. One of the five teams recently went on a trip to a neighborhood where smoke billows from various factories and mills operating among the city’s dense population.

“It’s obvious that the factories are utilizing inferior gasoline. For persons who have breathing problems, these fumes are intolerable “Sajid Ali, the team’s head, told AFP.

The air is heavy and gloomy, making breathing difficult even with masks on. Large gates mark the entrances to the factories, while piles of waste clutter the streets.

The team can tell the polluting furnaces have only recently been turned off since they are still red-hot, and newly forged steel rods are resting as they enter the first facility. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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