Provision of basic public goods – air and water – is something that every state must provide to its citizens. Every year, smog across Pakistan – and North India – hits serious levels and the government’s response is to take temporary action but not do anything to actually deal with the problem.
Over the last few weeks the rise in smog has led the government to close shops or businesses but these crackdowns do not really do anything to improve the air quality. Lahore is today one of the most hazardous cities in the world with its AQI soaring through the roof, and the government’s anti-smog steps have so far failed to achieve anything worthwhile.
As an editorial in Daily Times noted “Year after year, talk-of-the-town smog season comes back to haunt us with an increasing tenacity while those at the helm of the affairs are forced to blow dust off some snap-shot interventions and pray for a miracle has been the norm for the last so many years. The emergency situation may result in a reactive line of action from the concerned departments but Pakistan has yet to formulate a comprehensive long-term sustainable plan to protect its citizens. As if crippling life in Lahore with the toxic haze was not enough to satiate its appetite, this “seasonal activity” has now launched a far more lethal plan, spreading its tentacles as far as Islamabad.”
Daily Times advised that “in addition to creating awareness about the impacts of burning crop residue and garbage, the authorities should point their loaded guns towards the industrial sharks who continue to trample upon the environment in their greed for profits.”