SMOG! This word has been hitting the headline news and have stirred the social media for the last few weeks. This toxic cloud of fog, pollutants and calm wind has descended on large swathes of Punjab’s capital and has engulfed the city in its notoriously noxious air. The issue is ballooning as smog that has persisted have cast a dry spell over the entire city.

The negligence of the Government together with the citizens is the root cause of ‘the fifth season’. But why are the children and the older people who probably once fought for an independent Pakistan struggling to breathe? Almost everyone on this side of the border blames Indian farmers for stubble burning. But is it the only reason? No. Is only Punjab government responsible for it? No. We, ourselves, are responsible for what we do. As the proverb says “As you sow so shall you reap”, I say, “What you reap, will make you weep”. Because we are feeding toxicity into nature and there is little mother earth can do to counter it.

So we first need to question our very own doings. Ask yourself, is your vehicle emission free? Do you ride in two stroke so-not-smoke-free rickshaw? Do you take public transport or prefer your very own chauffeured driven luxurious car? How many trees surround your house? How much resources you consume and the waste you produce? And then question the Punjab government who have not focused on green technology and policies. Ask them why they have yet not banned two stroke rickshaw? Why have they not made the cars expensive or set limit for the number of cars per house? Ask these industrial people if their industrial emissions are treated, controlled, monitored and reported?

Lahore is almost ALWAYS under construction which has caused a mess to its air quality. Almost 2200 trees have been cut down for the construction of Orange Line and then you confidently blame India for the smog in Lahore? It’s a high time to live in the reality guys! Emissions from rickshaws and other vehicles, industrial air pollution, urbanization, deforestation, trash burning, developmental projects, road dust, there are a whole lot of reasons that India is not to be blamed for. All these reasons have triggered PM 2.5 to climb up to 600ug/m3-crossing all the global safety benchmarks against the notified standards of 35ug/m3/day!

Hence, blaming a neighboring country and injecting falsities in the popular narrative is as unhealthy as the smog itself. It goes without saying that these lethal and deadly clouds have caused visibility and health issues across the entire city and I know you are also a victim of it. This smog has not only resulted in train and flight delays, road accidents, highway pileups but also school timings been pushed forward due to zero visibility in the early winter mornings.

We all feel this unpleasant dusty smell and brownish haze in air all the time that brings about irritating and watery eyes. Also, it is now no more an unusual sight to see people struggling to breathe and coughing the life out of them. You may have a stronger immune system than the rest of your fellows but caution is mandatory just like your Eid selfies. Health comes first so let go of what other people think and wear a smog mask, better to wet it. Wear eye protection goggles when required and better stay indoors.

On a larger scale, industries should realize to cut down their emissions and tree planting activities should be carried more often. This year clearly pronounces the worsening environmental degradation and indicates that Pakistan can no longer afford to remain oblivious to the growing air pollution. It is a high time to build a country that grows sustainably along with environmental.