India and Pakistan are arch nemesis. Ties between the two countries have been strained ever since 1947 when India gained Independence and Pakistan was carved out of the nation.
However, in 2017, the countries’ biggest cities -- Delhi and Lahore -- are fighting a common enemy: Smog.
In the last one week, nearly 60 domestic and international flights have been affected daily due to smog and heavy fog which affected the visibility level that touched zero.
The Punjab Environment Protection Department (also confirmed the presence of alarmingly high level of smog-causing pollutants in the air in Lahore, the second-most populous city in Pakistan after Karachi.
“At least 60 international and domestic flights have been affected in Lahore and some other cities of Punjab since the last week. Despite rescheduling of the flights the dense smog or fog is hampering the flight operation of both Pakistan International Airlines and foreign airlines,” PIA Lahore spokesman Athar Awan said.
Hundreds of cases of burning of eyes and throat irritation are being reported at hospitals in the city daily.
Smog is creating additional problems for children, the elderly and those suffering from pulmonary diseases.
According to the EPD’s readings, the average particulate matter 2.5 in Lahore was 330 milligram per meter cubic as against the yearly average of 35.
The level of particulate matter --10 was 370 as against the tolerable 150. Similarly, the oxygen nitrogen (vehicular pollution) was 120 as against the desired 40.
On the other hand, Delhi’s air quality has generated headlines worldwide in recent days. The situation has become so dire that authorities have enforced emergency measures such as banning construction activities and brick kilns in the National Capital Region.
The air quality was back to "severe-plus" or "emergency" category on Monday. The average Air Quality Index in the national capital on Monday was 449, with PM2.5 at 447 units.
For the entire Delhi-NCR, the average was 440 units, with PM2.5 at 438 units.
The safe limit for PM2.5 -- particles in the air with a diameter less than 2.5mm -- is 25 microgram per cubic meters as per international standards, though it is 60 units according to Indian standards.
-- With inputs from PTI