In line with the provincial authorities’ measures to combat smog, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Wednesday announced that all bank branches would remain shut in Lahore and other districts of the province on Friday (November 10).
The SBP’s announcement came following the provincial authorities’ decision to impose a health emergency in Lahore and other districts to tackle the worsening smog situation.
“Pursuant to the Notification dated November 08, 2023 issued by the Government of Punjab, it has been decided that all banks/MFBs shall keep their branches closed in Lahore Division (viz. District Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur), District Gujranwala, District Hafizabad, District Sialkot and District Narowal on Friday, November 10, 2023,” read the central bank’s communique.
A day earlier, the Punjab government had imposed a health emergency in Lahore and two other divisions from November 9 to 12.
All markets, shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas, gymnasiums, schools, and offices (public and private) shall remain closed for four days in Lahore, Gujranwala and Hafizabad divisions, a statement issued by the provincial health department said.
Growing industrialisation in South Asia in recent decades has fuelled growing pollutants emanating from factories, construction activity and vehicles in densely populated areas.
The problem becomes more severe in cooler autumn and winter months, as temperature inversion prevents a layer of warm air from rising and traps pollutants closer to the ground.
Heavy smog blanketed Lahore this week, reducing visibility and leading residents to complain of a threat to their health.
“The weather is such that everyone has a bad throat and bad eyes, and everyone’s health is getting affected,” said Mohammad Salahuddin, a private guard in Lahore.
Rising air pollution can cut life expectancy by more than five years per person in South Asia, one of the world’s most polluted regions, according to a report published in August which flagged the growing burden of hazardous air on health.