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Amnesty International Raises Alarm Over Air Quality In Punjab

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Amnesty International has raised alarm over the hazardous air quality in Punjab and has said that the failure to protect people from exposure to hazardous air risks violating their human rights to life and health.

Amnesty International said in a statement that the Air Quality Index in Lahore reached 484 at 10 am on Wednesday. It added that the lower limit for ‘hazardous’ levels of air quality was 300; at this level, people are advised to refrain from outdoor physical activity.

The human rights group said, “During the ‘smog season’ – from October to January – air quality reaches ‘hazardous’ levels, as recorded by multiple, independent sources including the air quality monitors installed by the United States Consulate in Lahore and the crowdsourced data collated by the Pakistan Air Quality Initiative.”

According to a report by Greenpeace, Faisalabad and Lahore were ranked among the top 10 most polluted cities in 2018.

The report by Amnesty International cited its South Asia Campaigner, Rimmel Mohydin, as saying that the high level of smog was neither a new problem, nor one that came without warning. She added, “The government of Pakistan needs to do much more to adequately address such a severe public health crisis — one that endangers people’s health and even their lives.”

Mohydin further added that air pollution and climate change were ‘intricately linked’. She said that a low air quality exacerbated existing inequality and paved the way for human rights violations.

“If authorities continue to stall making concerted efforts to address the smog crisis, it will continue to devastate human life,” she opined.

“There is something very wrong when the air becomes so toxic that you cannot breathe without hurting yourself. The government can no longer afford to waste time while people are choking to death.”

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