In a significant move to combat the environmental crisis caused by hazardous smog levels, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has mandated an additional weekly holiday for all educational institutions in the province. This decision, announced on November 20th, 2023, extends the closure of schools, colleges, and universities every Saturday until the end of January 2024.
Justice Shahid Karim, during the hearing of a case concerning the alarming smog situation, particularly in Lahore, issued a written order for the relevant authorities to implement this directive. The ruling is expected to provide some respite to students and faculty from the deteriorating air quality that has enveloped the region.
The court’s order also underscores the Punjab government’s initiatives to address the smog issue, including a two-day-a-week work-from-home policy to reduce vehicular emissions. Additionally, a previous mandate to shut down gyms, which was based on coronavirus-related provisions, has been lifted as it no longer applies under the current circumstances.
In response to the failure to control the smog levels, the environment department has been instructed to take departmental action against its officers. This comes after the provincial government had already taken measures such as making face masks compulsory for a week in selected districts, effective from November 20 to November 26.
The LHC’s decision reflects a growing concern for public health and the environment, prompting immediate action to mitigate the impact of pollution. As the notification is awaited, the educational community prepares for the operational changes that will see them enjoying an extended weekend for the next couple of months.
This judicial intervention highlights the critical role of governance in environmental protection and public health, setting a precedent for future actions that may be necessary to safeguard the well-being of citizens against environmental hazards.
As the city of Lahore and its surrounding areas continue to grapple with the smog crisis, the Lahore High Court’s decision serves as a reminder of the urgent need for sustainable solutions to combat pollution and preserve the environment for future generations.