In response to the worsening air quality due to smog in the province, the government of Punjab has taken a significant step by making it mandatory for all school students and staff to wear face masks for at least 30 days. This decision was reached during a lengthy meeting of the Punjab cabinet, chaired by caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi.
The Smog Emergency
The decision to mandate face masks is part of a broader effort to address the alarming levels of smog in the region. It is in compliance with the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC), which had called for urgent action to combat the hazardous smog. Despite the severity of the situation, the Punjab government decided that declaring an additional off day would not be as effective as ensuring the use of face masks.
Face-Mask Mandate in Schools
One of the central aspects of this policy is the requirement for all schools across the province to ensure that both students and staff wear face masks. This proactive measure is aimed at safeguarding the health of the educational community and mitigating the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to smog.
Appeal to the General Public
Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has not limited this mandate to schools alone. He has made a heartfelt appeal to the general public, urging them to wear face masks for a minimum of one month. This demonstrates the government’s commitment to addressing the smog crisis collectively, with the cooperation of the public.
To ensure the effective implementation of this directive, provincial ministers have been directed to visit government and private schools. Their presence and oversight will play a crucial role in ensuring that the necessary precautions are being taken in educational institutions.
Stricter Measures for Construction
In addition to the face-mask mandate, Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has taken a significant step to improve air quality. He has ordered the commissioner of the Lahore division, the Local Government department, and the Lahore Waste Management Company to take strict measures against those who neglect to apply water to materials during the construction of buildings. This is a proactive approach to reduce dust and pollutants from construction sites.
Air Quality Monitoring System
To better monitor air quality in the region, an agreement has been reached with a Chinese company to install an Air Quality Monitoring System in Lahore. This system will provide real-time data on air quality, enabling timely interventions to mitigate air pollution.
The government of Punjab’s decision to make face masks mandatory for school students and staff, along with the declaration of a smog emergency, reflects a proactive approach to address the critical issue of smog and air pollution. These measures underscore the government’s commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of the people of Punjab.