The Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) Director General Mr. Asif S. Khan announced that “By December 2011, Euro II compliant diesel will be available in Pakistan with 0.05 per cent sulphur content.” Mr Khan said under the Pakistan Clean Air Programme, a multi-pronged approach to bring down air pollution, sulphur in diesel had been brought down from one percent to 0.6 percent.
“There is a positive response from Pakistan Automotive Association and the Engineering Development Board, and notifications have been issued by the Ministry of Petroleum giving six months lead time to all vehicle manufacturers for Euro II compliance by July 2012,” the Pak-EPA chief said.
Vehicular exhausts, containing a range of toxic substances, are suffocating Islamabad, according to health experts and environmentalists. The National Newspaper for Pakistan reports that experts have reasons to believe that vehicle emissions are major contributors to, and responsible for, heart illnesses and premature deaths.
Mr. Khan said the real time data obtained from the new, highly-sophisticated air quality check stations showed higher suspended particulate matter in air over the capital. “Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) in air is one of the most serious concerns. PM2.5 is so fine that once inhaled, is settles below lungs and can mix with blood. Not only does it reduce oxygen carrying capacity of lungs but also causes blood clotting,” he said. The average level of particulate matter recorded in Islamabad was 75 microgram per cubic metre, way higher than the safe limit of 35 microgram per cubic metre.
The picture was worst in Lahore where the average level of particulate matter was 122 microgram per cubic metre, the highest among the country’s five major cities – Peshawar 79.1 microgram per cubic metre, Quetta 47 microgram per cubic metre and Karachi better than both Islamabad and Lahore with average level of 53 microgram per cubic metre.
Mr. Khan said more than two million vehicles were converted to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The government was already introducing 8,000 CNG buses – 4,000 CNG buses for Lahore alone of which 50 were already on road. “And two-stroke vehicles will be eliminated without creating unemployment using the Green Fund. We are also placing a ban on registration of new two-stroke transport,” he said.