The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday ordered the closure of all markets and restaurants in the provincial capital by 10 pm on weekdays as well as sealing any schools that opened on Fridays as part of measures to reduce smog.
The order was announced by Justice Shahid Karim as the LHC took up public interest petitions on remedying the ongoing smog situation.
Last week, the high court directed the provincial government to keep schools closed for three days a week in Lahore after an environmental emergency was imposed.
The Punjab government, on the LHC’s order, issued a notification directing closure of schools and offices in Lahore for additional two days – Friday and Saturday – weekly due to the worsening smog situation.
The notification, issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), stated that the staff may continue to work from home.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the LHC stated that smog had reduced to some extent after the court orders.
Justice Karim maintained that the implementation of the court orders had to be monitored.
He said that schools that were not closed on Friday should be sealed and that the education department should strictly implement the court directives.
The LHC ordered markets to remain open on Sundays from 2 pm to 10 pm and that restaurants would close at 11 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi imposed an environmental emergency in Lahore and other cities after declaring the smog a calamity. Along with the ban on burning crop residues across the province, the CM ordered the effective implementation of a plan prepared to reduce smog.
According to an official statement, the chief minister said action should be taken to control the factors that cause smog. He said officers of the environment, transport and industries departments as well as district administration should be active in the field to implement the plan.
He said failure to implement the existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to reduce smog would not be tolerated.