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Smog continues to disrupt rail, road and air traffic

Smog continues to disrupt rail, road and air traffic

LAHORE: Smog and fog on Sunday assumed alarming proportions in Punjab before they could be washed away by rain expected by the meteorologists and the Punjab environment protection department in the next two days.

There was marked burning of eyes and throat irritation as a pal of thick smog hung over Lahore throughout the day. Social media termed Lahore the dirtiest city in the world on Sunday, creating additional problems for children, the elderly and those suffering from pulmonary diseases.

The EPD officials contested the declaration saying it was not based on any authentic data. But they themselves confirmed the presence of high level of smog-causing pollution in the air in Lahore.

According to the department’s readings, the average particulate matter 2.5 in Lahore was 330 milligram per meter cubic as against the yearly average of 35. The level of particulate matter -10 was 370 as against the tolerable 150. Similarly, the oxygen nitrogen (vehicular pollution) was 120 as against the desired 40.

Two-day rain spell likely from tomorrow

“Yes, it is high. But, the major contributor is vehicular pollution being caused by huge number of vehicles and their adulterated oil,” said EPD Director Tauqeer Qureshi.

The level of dust particles was not alarming and contribution from the paddy stubble burning had come almost to zero, he said.

Meanwhile, as smog perturbed people much more than in the last two days, the Met department indicated the incursion of a strong westerly wave during Sunday. Rain and snowfall over the hills would be generated by the wave and with it smog would be over next week, it said.

In the first instance, the system was expected to give scattered rain-thunderstorm with snowfall over the hills is expected in Balochistan, including Quetta, KP, Fata, Islamabad, upper Punjab, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan on Monday. Isolated rain-thunderstorm in Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Bahawalpur, Karachi, Sukkur and Larkana divisions is also expected where it will remain dense foggy/smoggy over the plains of Punjab during morning hours.

Lahore and other Punjab divisions like Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Sahiwal are likely to receive the rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Earlier, smog and fog continued to affect life in the length and breadth of Punjab and in the plains of KP and Sindh, disrupting rail, road and air traffic.

Motorway that remained closed on Saturday night at various points, was again closed to all types of traffic from Lahore to Kot Momin, Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad and from here to Gojra at 8pm on Sunday due to extremely poor visibility.

Visibility was also very poor at the national highway from Lahore to Pattoki, Sahiwal and Chichawatni.

Airport authorities reported suspension of the entire flight schedule due to heavy fog at the Lahore airport on Saturday night. The condition at other airports in Punjab too was critical, forcing cancellation or delays of a number of incoming and outgoing flights, it was stated.

A PIA spokesman indicated cancellation of many incoming flights including [from] Paris, Riyadh, Tokyo and Abu Dhabi due to unfavourable aviation conditions.

He reported cancellation of PK 342, PK 343 Karachi-Faisalabad-Karachi, PK 313 Lahore-Karachi, PK 683, PK 684 Lahore-Multan-Lahore, PK 582, PK 583 Karachi-Rahim Yar Khan-Karachi on Monday.

The rerouted flights include PK 588, PK 589 now operating Karachi-Multan-Islamabad-Multan-Karachi (delayed by two hours and 45 minutes), PK 763 operating Karachi-Jeddah instead of Faisalabad-Jeddah, PK 296 operating Abu Dhabi-Lahore instead of Abu Dhabi-Rahim Yar Khan-Lahore, PK 340, PK 341 now operating Karachi-Lahore-Karachi instead of Faisalabad.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2017

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