Lahore, November 20, 2023 : On Monday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) mandated the closure of all educational institutions in Punjab on Saturdays until the conclusion of January as a measure to control smog.
LHC Judge Justice Shahid Karim issued a written order in response to petitions filed by citizens addressing air pollution concerns. In the comprehensive directive, the judge instructed the provincial government to issue a notification for the closure of schools, colleges, and universities on Saturdays until the last week of January.
The order additionally stated that the government was implementing measures to facilitate two days of remote work per week.
On November 18, the Punjab Government implemented a smart lockdown in the 10 most polluted districts, restricting movement in Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, and Narowal. These districts exhibited the highest Air Quality Index (AQI) and were identified as potential hotspots for Conjunctivitis due to smog.
A notification from the Punjab Health Department highlighted the increasing spread of Conjunctivitis/Pink Eye, attributed to bacterial or viral infection, as well as smoke, dust, or chemical exposure. This was deemed a serious and imminent threat to public health.
The day before, the provincial government had mandated the wearing of masks for individuals venturing outdoors. Notably, a four-day holiday was observed in smog-affected areas of the province the previous week, with some businesses initially asked to close but later permitted to operate as rains had alleviated the smog situation.