Pakistan’s Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has written a letter to his counterpart in India, Captain Amarinder Singh, urging a “regional cooperation arrangement” to combat the issue of smog, which has caused difficulties on both sides of the border as well as in far off places like New Delhi and Lahore.
The letter written by Shehbaz Sharif on November 19 was tweeted by @govtofpunjab on Tuesday and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was also tagged. The office of Amarinder Singh is apparently aware of the tweet and is preparing a reply to be sent to the Punjab (Pakistan) CM.
In his letter, Sharif has said there was a need to join hands to tackle not only the issue of smog, but also of environmental pollution. “I would like to invite you for entering into a regional cooperation arrangement to tackle the issue of smog as well as environmental pollution. Let us join hands for securing a prosperous future for the people of our two provinces,” he said.
The intensity of smog issue that has wide implications for human health calls for concerted efforts to take on this challenge. @CMShehbaz has written a letter to the Chief Minister of Indian Punjab @capt_amarinder for a cooperative & coordinated approach. @ArvindKejriwal pic.twitter.com/FgStC4WjXc
— Govt Of The Punjab (@GovtOfPunjab) November 21, 2017
Smog afflicts the two states on either side of the border mainly in October and November, and Sharif said the menace had only got worse each year and had spread far beyond its place of origin. “The main causes of smog range from vehicular and industrial emissions to rice stubble burning. The phenomenon has now assumed regional proportions and it now engulfs areas from New Delhi to Lahore and beyond. You will agree with me that the problem is essentially scientific and economic and cannot be tackled through other means,” Shehbaz, who is the brother of former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said.
Sharif said it was in the interest of both the Punjabs to make a collective effort to identify technologies and business methods that might eliminate the need to burn paddy stubble and help control smog.
Raveen Thukral, the media adviser of Singh, responded to the tweet by saying, “Amarinder Singh is extremely concerned about the issue and is actively pursuing it with the Indian government. He expects early resolution of the matter. He is, however, yet to receive the letter from Shehbaz Sharif and will reply to it at a suitable time.”
The Pakistan side of Punjab has faced severe smoggy conditions in the past few weeks and there were allegations that the situation aggravated in Lahore and surrounding areas due to crop burning in the Indian side of the state. Smog also engulfed the national capital and for two weeks the air quality had fallen to ‘severe’ category.