In a significant development, the Punjab government has reshaped its strategy to combat stubble burning by reassigning the monitoring and prevention responsibilities from agriculture department officers to assistant commissioners across all tehsils in the Lahore division. This pivotal decision comes in response to the observation that the previously designated agriculture officers were not diligently fulfilling their duties as focal persons.
The issue gained prominence when social media showcased videos depicting extensive stubble burning in agricultural fields, contributing to smog-related problems in various parts of Punjab, particularly Lahore and neighboring cities.
Taking immediate action, Commissioner Randhawa instructed assistant commissioners to address instances of massive stubble burning, particularly in Sukheki and other affected areas. He emphasized the need to dismantle brick kilns operating without zigzag technology and provided a helpline (042-111-425-725), WhatsApp number (0328-9491760), and publicized social media accounts for reporting smog-related complaints and information.
The decision was finalized during a meeting chaired by Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa, who addressed concerns about the negligence displayed by agriculture officers in tackling stubble burning within their jurisdictions. An official source revealed that the decision was prompted by their failure to take effective action against those responsible for stubble burning.
To ensure swift resolution, the commissioner warned that if a complaint remains unresolved for 24 hours, the Lahore Commissioner’s office would intervene, taking action against negligent officers. Deputy Commissioners (DCs) were tasked with rigorous monitoring along the Nankana and Sheikhupura Motorway to promptly address instances of stubble burning.
Furthermore, Commissioner Randhawa called for the demolition of pyrolysis plants emitting smoke and deployed 12 teams to inspect industrial units in North Lahore and Mahmood Booti area. Night patrols, led by DCs and District Police Officers (DPOs), were organized along the Lahore to Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib Motorways. The meeting reported that the traffic police had impounded 5,700 smoke-emitting vehicles and issued 1,300 challans for uncovered trolleys.
In a stern warning, Commissioner Randhawa held DCs accountable for any black smoke emanating from factory or brick kiln chimneys. This proactive approach aims to ensure a rapid and effective response to stubble burning, reinforcing the commitment of the Punjab government to environmental conservation and public health.