On Saturday morning, the snow-covered mountains in northern Tehran could be clearly seen, for once. The clean air came after two days of on-and-off rain and then a Friday, which always has less traffic because it is a holiday in Iran.
However, this sunny and clean air did not last long, as the shadow of pollution quickly descended on the city again, and the beautiful mountains in northern Tehran went out of sight again.
There are a number of driving factors behind the high level of air pollution in the Iranian capital and other big cities in the country, such as the low-quality gasoline and diesel fuel that is used, the low price of gasoline, the excessive use of private cars, the indifference of most citizens toward environmental issues, inefficient and insufficient public transport systems, and the armadas of substandard cars and motorcycles plying the highways and byways of the country.
Some experts say that each motorcycle produces as much pollutants as seven passenger cars, not to mention the additional noise pollution they produce.
Although domestic auto companies have not raised their standards or begun to produce fuel-efficient cars, they have enjoyed the unjustified support of successive governments. The previous administration even allowed car companies to greatly increase their prices.
In addition, the major Iranian car makers are refusing to listen to environmentalists, who say they should fit emissions control devices, such as catalytic converters and canisters containing activated carbon, on the vehicles they produce.
And officials’ refusal to end the monopoly of auto companies that produce substandard cars has come at the cost of people’s lives.
Rahmatollah Hafezi, the chairman of the health committee of the Tehran City Council, has said about 227 Iranians die due to air pollution every month. Hafezi also stated that cars and motorcycles are responsible for 70 to 80 percent of the air pollution.
The previous administration’s decision to make the country self-sufficient in the production of gasoline -– the use of which is constantly increasing -- has led to the production of low quality gasoline, which again comes at the cost of people’s lives.
On the other hand, officials and mass media outlets, especially the state-funded national TV, are not encouraging people to be eco-friendly citizens. In addition, NGOs are not trying to raise public awareness about the danger of air pollution and are not raising their voices to call on the government to address the issue.
Clearly, citizens, especially in big cities, have been taken hostage by substandard cars and motorcycles, which are depriving them of the right to breathe fresh air.
We hope that the new administration will do more than just pay lip service to the issue of air pollution and will immediately start taking serious action. The citizens of Iran have the right to breathe clean air.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader