Punjab to shut down school, colleges in Punjab’s smog-hit areas on Friday, Saturday

Markets and restaurants to open at 3pm on Friday and Saturday; all businesses to remain closed on Sunday

Students wearing face masks walk along a street amid smoggy conditions in Lahore on November 21, 2023. — AFP
Students wearing face masks walk along a street amid smoggy conditions in Lahore on November 21, 2023. — AFP 
  • Lahore, Gujranwala among cities hit by smog.
  • Markets and restaurants to open for work at 3pm on Fri and Sat.
  • Govt offices to remain open on Fri; will start work at 3pm on Sat.

LAHORE: All schools, colleges and universities will remain closed on Friday and Saturday, as Punjab on Thursday notified measures to curb smog across the province as it impacts the daily life of citizens.

Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi, who chaired a high-level meeting of the Punjab Cabinet Anti-Smog Committee today, announced the provincial government’s decision during a presser in Lahore.

CM Punjab said the government’s policies will be implemented across six provincial divisions including Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, Sargodha.

The smog-hit cities include Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, Sargodha, Kasur, Sheikupura, Hafizabad, Narowal, Nankana Sahib and Sialkot.

Markets and restaurants, he added, will open for work at 3pm on Friday and Saturday, while all kinds of businesses will have to be closed on Sunday. 

“Markets can remain open till night. We don’t want anyone to suffer loss, but they will have to adjust according to the situation.”

CM Punjab said offices will remain operational on Friday but will open for work at 3pm on Saturday. These measures, the chief minister added, are being taken as Air Quality Index (AQI) levels are higher in the morning and decrease with time.

The government will also install towers to clear smog in Lahore for which, CM Punjab said, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed.

He added that the government will also provide electric bikes to 10,000 students on subsidy to curb the use of regular motorcycles which cause air pollution for which a committee has been formed to finalise suggestions. Meanwhile, government employees will also be provided e-bikes on lease.

CM Punjab said the government is considering measures for artificial rain if clouds approach Lahore on November 29. 

However, that will only happen if a “specific kind of cloud” moves towards the city. The government has also decided to double the amount of water being sprinkled on the streets.

The chief minister said the main Mall Road on Sunday will only be open for bicycle users from morning till 5pm. Some of the measures, CM Naqvi said, have been taken symbolically, some are long-term, while others have been taken to break the peak of pollution in the city and province.

He also urged people to wear masks to protect their health.

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