Disputes aside, India and Pakistan need to develop a joint strategy to
fight the smog issue in the interest of the masses.
The lockdowns imposed to contain coronavirus did not only reduce the spread of COVID but also reduced CO2 gas emissions. The pandemic proved to be deadly for human beings but beneficial for the environment as the air quality around the globe improved for a short time. This improvement did not last long. When the pandemic was contained to some extent, countries around the world gradually lifted their lockdowns and everything returned to normal. The only difference was that certain SOPs were put in place.
Now, the second wave of the coronavirus has arrived as 2020 comes to an end. The devastating impact of the disease, however, will increase during the winters as toxic smog engulfs many parts of India and Pakistan. Every winter, the northern parts of South Asia witness alarming pollution. These levels seem to be spiraling up every year due to the increase in population and greater economic activity in the region.
Winters in Pakistan are accompanied by high levels of pollution as a large number of pollutants are concentrated in the lower atmosphere due to the dry and cold weather conditions. This pollution is accompanied by dense smog which causes schools to shut down, commuting on the motorway becomes impossible and many flights need to be postponed or cancelled. Last year, schools in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad were shut down as the smog choked entire cities. The smog has also been referred to as a fifth season.
People avoid stepping out during the winters. Those who need to go out for work wear a mask which has become a part of everyday attire due to the pandemic. Air pollution does not only make it difficult to carry out daily tasks but also leads to several different respiratory diseases such as asthma and sinusitis, damages lung tissue, causes eye irritation and heart problems. The damage does not stop there. The air pollutants also cause diabetes, increase blood pressure and affect one’s mental health. To keep it short, the pollutants drastically reduce every individual’s lifespan.