Punjab learning from Chinese experience to control air pollution

ISLAMABAD: Fast urbanisation, an increasing number of vehicles and enhanced industrial activities have increased air pollution in the major cities of Punjab province, particularly in the capital city of Lahore.
Realising the problems faced by the people on account of air pollution in major cities, including Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Gujranwala, the provincial government of Punjab has come forward with a smart and innovative move of installing smog-free towers for air purification.
Smog-free towers have been designed with Chinese collaboration like “vacuum-cleaners,” which operate to suck smog and dust particles from the air and provide 70% fresh and clean air with purification of air pollutants.
During the last 15 years, Lahore’s land covered by forests has reduced significantly, and now only 3% of green area remains due to increased industrial, transport and construction activities. Gardens and trees of Lahore are being shelved to make space for asphalt roads and concrete buildings. With depleting green belts and chopping of trees, a new phenomenon in the form of smog has made the lives of city dwellers difficult during winter season.
An official from the Environment Protection Department, Government of Punjab, told WealthPK that a smog-free tower houses an electrostatic field, which operates like a sucking tower and can pull 30,000 cubic meters of smog particles in one hour from polluted air.
He said that smog towers work like air purifiers and consist of multi-layers of air filters and fans at the tower’s base to suck air. In the smog tower, pollutant air is absorbed and purified from pollutants through multiple layers and then released back into the atmosphere.
Professor Dr Khalid Ahmed from the Department of Environmental Sciences, Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, told WealthPK that the world’s largest smog-tower was first constructed in Xi’an city of China and its prototype were later built in 2017 in Beijing, Tianjin and Delhi (India).
China has expressed willingness to establish smog-free towers in Lahore and other polluted cities. Prof Khalid informed that smog is derived from the words of smoke-fog and is composed of air pollution, which is a combination of toxic effluents of industrial and vehicular emissions. The major components of smog in Lahore and adjoining areas are sulphur oxide, smoke, carbon monoxide, dust, ammonia gas, and other chemicals.
Prof Khalid pointed out that the major reasons for smog in Lahore are vehicle emissions, hundreds of brick kilns, overpopulation, and industrial pollution. He said smog causes serious health issues, and impacts the environment seriously. He said smog is more dangerous for the people with heart, artery and lung diseases, and particularly the children under 14 years of age.
In a recent meeting in Lahore, Chinees Consul General Zao Shiren briefed Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on working of smog-free towers installed in China. The Punjab government is going to establish these smog-free towers in border areas with India and in the areas abundant with industrial units.
On the other side, it has been learnt that the impact of smog-free towers is limited and expensive as well. The government should address the root causes of air pollution to address the problem on permanent basis.