Smog poisons thousands in Pakistan
Steph Deschamps / November 13, 2023
Thousands of people have fallen ill due to a toxic haze of pollution in eastern Pakistan, forcing the authorities to close parks, schools, shopping centers and other services in several cities, including Lahore, until Sunday, writes the British public broadcaster BBC on Friday.
Over the past few days, Lahore's air quality index, which measures the level of fine particles in the air in Pakistan's second-largest city, has recorded levels four times higher than the "satisfactory" average. The Punjab provincial authorities are therefore advising the population to wear mouth masks outdoors.
"I travel a lot (by moped) for my work. When I get home, my eyes are irritated," says salesman Ameer Hamza. A mother tells us that her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter has difficulty eating because of blisters that have formed around her mouth as a result of the pollution.
According to the Air Quality of Life Index developed by the University of Chicago, air pollution reduces life expectancy by almost seven years in the most exposed regions of Pakistan, including Lahore.
North-western India, bordering Pakistan, faces a similar pollution problem.
On both sides of the border, experts criticize the timid response of the authorities, who have imposed closures and temporary restrictions on car traffic, or are toying with the idea - so far unrealized - of artificially inducing rainfall over New Delhi, India's capital in the north of the country.
Some point to the habit in these regions of burning the remains of summer crops before winter planting as the main source of this pollution. According to local media, the issue will be addressed by the diplomatic corps of both countries.