With Lahore again at the top of the world’s pollution ranking because of the smog, the Punjab government has started contemplating a plan to use artificial rain in the provincial capital later this month in an attempt to curb the problem.
Artificial rain, also known as cloud seeding, is a weather modification technique that aims to stimulate precipitation. This is done by introducing different substances into clouds that further promote the formation of raindrops.
According to the IQAir, Lahore’s air quality index (AQI) was registered at a “hazardous” 470 on Thursday but recorded at 335 on Friday.
Punjab’s caretaker Environment Minister Bilal Iqbal on Friday chaired a meeting to find a new method to solve the continuous problem of smog. According to a statement issued by the provincial environment ministry, a consultation huddle was held to mull over the feasibility of artificial rain.
It was decided that preparations should be made in connection with artificial rain on November 28 or 29. The interim minister instructed the formation of a working group to supervise the initiative. He added that the working group had been assigned the task of evaluating the steps to facilitate the deployment of aircraft for artificial rain.
Iqbal also stressed the need for the presence of clouds for the successful execution of artificial rain. Caretaker provincial education minister, Mansoor Qadir, who was present on the occasion, said the working group should completely analyse all aspects of the initiative and their final recommendations would be submitted to the interim CM for approval.
Iqbal also met with Chinese Consul General .Zhao Shiren during which they discussed the issue of smog.
The interim provincial minister took up the issue of using the assistance of Chinese environmental experts to tackle Lahore’s smog problem.
He attributed 30% of the current smog intensity in Lahore to the winds blowing from India while 70% to local transport, industries and dust. Iqbal said artificial rain was the only short-term solution to the problem. “The smog will end by next month but we want to find a permanent solution to this problem and make it easier for the incoming government,” he added.
The Chinese consul general suggested the construction of an air purification tower in Lahore. On Saturday (today), educational institutions will be remain closed in Lahore and commercial centres in the city will open after 3pm. Before cleaning, water is being sprayed on the roads across the city.
Action is under way against polluting factories, those who burn crop residue and smoke-emitting vehicles. In related development, the Lahore High Court heard applications filed for the removal of smog from the city. The lawyer representing the provincial government informed the court about recommended measures chalked out by the interim set-up including shutting down of gyms and early closure of restaurants.
Justice Shahid Karim observed that some of these recommendations seemed unnecessary as gyms were closed because of the Covid-19 outbreak. The lawyer replied that the recommendations were being reviewed. The judge noted that as much as the role of the factories was related to smog, so was that of the officers of the relevant department.
He added that action should be taken against these officers under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act. Ordering the lawyer to promote cycling in Lahore, the court adjourned the hearing of the applications till November 22.