The caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has announced that all schools and offices in the province will be closed on Saturday, November 18. This decision comes as a response to the hazardous air quality levels that have plagued the region, particularly Lahore, which has been ranked as the world’s most polluted city.
The announcement was made during a press conference held by Naqvi, following a directive from Lahore High Court’s Justice Shahid Karim, who ordered the closure of educational institutions on Saturdays due to the government’s failure to effectively combat the smog crisis.
The air quality in the province had reached alarming levels, with the concentration of PM 2.5, or fine particulate matter, hitting a high of 400, which is categorized as hazardous, earlier in the week. On Wednesday, the levels were recorded at 195, still considered unhealthy.
Residents of Lahore and other affected areas have been advised to stay indoors and wear masks when venturing outside, as many are experiencing breathing difficulties due to the toxic air. The government’s decision to declare a smog holiday is part of a broader strategy to mitigate the effects of pollution.
The interim chief minister highlighted that farmers would be supported in acquiring modern machinery to reduce crop burning, a significant contributor to the smog problem.
The smog holiday follows a period last week when certain businesses were asked to shut down from Friday to Sunday. However, they were later permitted to remain operational as rain helped subdue the smog temporarily. The government is also taking other unspecified measures to curb the environmental issue.