Awakening from somber sleep

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The recent proactive stance of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa transport department against vehicles emitting toxic fumes marks a critical turning point in the battle against air pollution in the provincial capital, Peshawar. As outlined in a recent news item published on these pages, the comprehensive operation aims to curb the alarming levels of pollution that have earned Peshawar a spot among Pakistan’s most polluted cities.
The Peshawar Clean Air Alliance’s report, backed by the SEED Program, has shed light on a surprising culprit—vehicles traversing the city’s roads contribute a staggering 58.46% to air pollution. From motorbikes to massive 18-wheeler trucks, the vehicular emissions have become a significant threat to the well-being of Peshawar’s residents.
While addressing this issue poses financial challenges for the cash-strapped provincial government, the introduction of inclusive and integrated policies becomes paramount. Encouraging the use of public transportation, bolstering the capacity of Vehicle Emission Testing Stations (VETS), and promoting electric vehicles as low-emission alternatives are crucial steps in the right direction. Moreover, the battle against air pollution demands a multifaceted approach. Increasing green spaces, planting trees, controlling industrial emissions, efficient waste management, robust air quality monitoring, and public education are integral components. The ongoing crackdown by the transport department must persist until the city’s roads are free from vehicles emitting harmful smoke.
The collaboration between government departments and the public is pivotal in implementing and reinforcing anti-emission measures. Citizens must actively support transport authorities in identifying and reporting vehicles causing pollution, thereby safeguarding human health.
Health professionals emphasize the severe health risks associated with both short and long-term exposure to air pollution, including strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and various respiratory conditions. Children, in particular, are vulnerable, given their developing organs and immune systems. It is imperative for the public to voice their concerns, urging political parties to prioritize addressing air pollution in election campaigns and for governments to take concrete steps before it’s too late. The battle against air pollution is not confined to a specific season; it is an ever-present danger demanding immediate and sustained action.