Schools shut in Lahore due to rising pollution levels

(151026) -- LAHORE, Oct. 26, 2015 (Xinhua) -- Children evacuate from their school after a severe earthquake in eastern Pakistan's Lahore on Oct. 26, 2015. At least 125 people were killed and over 1,000 others injured when an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale hit Pakistan on Monday, local media and MET office said. (Xinhua/Jamil Ahmed)

Islamabad: The air quality in Pakistan’s city of Lahore and adjoining districts on Friday surpassed “hazardous” level, forcing local government to close down all public and private schools for two days.

“In the wake of dense smog, public and private schools operating within the territorial limits of Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala districts will remain closed on November 15 and 16,” said a notification issued by the Punjab School Education Department.

Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, was worst hit with the data from Air Visual, a global air-monitoring giant, showing that air quality has deteriorated over the past few weeks in the city, Xinhua reported.

Following scattered rain in Lahore on Thursday, a thick blanket of smog has engulfed the city, making travel and outdoor activities both dangerous and challenging for the citizens.

As air pollution worsened, authorities in Lahore have also contemplated some immediate solutions, such as artificial rain as a remedial and preventive strategy.

Commissioner Lahore Division Asif Bilal Lodhi told local media that the government has started working on the concept and could execute the idea of artificial rain if smog level ticked up further.

Environmentalists in the country believe that the major contributing factor to worsening air quality and smog issue in the country, especially in Lahore, is the transport sector, followed by crop burning and waste burning, and emissions from brick kilns and steel furnaces.