Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province Shehbaz Sharif has written to his Indian counterpart Amarinder Singh and invited him to strike a "regional cooperation agreement" to tackle smog and pollution that has affected people on both sides, media reports said today.
In a letter dated November 19, Shehbaz said the people of both Pakistani and Indian Punjabs have been facing the problem of smog during the months of October and November, Dawn newspaper reported.
"It goes without saying that the smog has an adverse impact on health, especially on the old and the children; on agriculture in the form of delayed sowing of wheat and damage to potato and other crops and causes traffic accidents," said Shehbaz in the letter.
Shehbaz, 66, the younger brother of ousted Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, explained some of the causes of smog, including rice stubble burning.
He also noted that the problem now affects Lahore, New Delhi and regions beyond the two cities in both countries.
"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," Shehbaz said, amidst the chill in India-Pakistan ties after a series of terror attacks launched by Pakistan-based terror groups.
"You will agree with me that is essentially scientific and economic and cannot be tackled through other means," he said.
Shehbaz also said that it is in the interest of people from both Punjabs that a collective effort be made towards identifying technologies and business methods that may eliminate the need to burn rice-stubble and help control smog formation.
Many cities in both sides of Punjab have been blanketed by thick smog in recent weeks, with pollution affecting normal life. Many flights have been cancelled or delayed in Lahore. A number of serious road accidents in Pakistan have been blamed on poor visibility due to smog.
Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, is a thick yellowish black fog which suspends in the air.