Tehran fights for breath, officials pass the buck

November 15, 2016

TEHRAN — While air pollution in Tehran has reached critical levels for seven days in a row officials keep shifting the blame onto each other.

The air quality indices have surged up so much so that all healthy people are likely to experience irritation or discomfort while breathing as well as those with heart and lung condition.

Moreover pre-elementary and elementary schools were shut down on Tuesday for the second day in the same week, traffic rules are tightened and traffic zones are stretched further.

However it is said that the blanket of brown-white smog descended on the capital which has forced many to stay at home or restrict their outdoor activities and wear masks would persist until Wednesday when the weather forecasts predict blasts of wind will come and blow the stagnant and still air.

Shutting down the schools worst strategy ever, says councilor

Eqbal Shakeri, head of urban development committee of Tehran City Council, who attended Tuesday session by wearing a mask showing his objection to the persistent air pollution explained that shutting down the schools at the time of air pollution is the most inefficient policy.

“Air pollution has become an old and recurrent issue for the Tehraners and has inflicted heavy loss upon them, and closing schools would only cause chaos,” ISNA news agency quoted Shakeri as saying.

13 organizations in charge, none held accountable

Shakeri went on to say that some 13 organizations are in charge of dealing with air pollution but none has been held responsible so far.

“No one has ever bothered to apologize the public for the air pollution or even explain what’s happening,” he added.

80% of air pollution caused by cars, motorcycles

Shakeri also pointed out that some 80 percent of the air pollution is caused by cars and motorcycles.

“Following the implementation of the nuclear deal [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)] at least we expect the government to provide the country with some 1,000 wagons for the subway system, 400 buses, 20,000 taxis and electric motorcycles,” he added.

Heavy vehicles worsening the situation

Rahmatollah Hafezi, head of health committee of Tehran City Council, has also tweeted that some 10,000 heavy vehicles of poor standards which mostly operate on diesel engines and working night shifts in Tehran are aggravating the air pollution, YJC reported.

The subway is not sufficiently funded: Tehran mayor

Despite having around 100 stations, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf Tehran Mayor says Tehran Subway is not sufficiently funded by central government, forcing millions to rely on cars.

Apologize to foreign tourists

"We hope our people's hospitality wipes the grey image of Tehran's beautiful attractions from their minds," the Tehran tourism chief Rajab Ali Khosroabadi said.

Number of deaths increased

According to Nasim news agency Habib Kashani, another councilor explained that some 3,262 individuals died from September 22 to October 14 while the number increased by 412 over the same number of the days over the second month of autumn.

Department of Environment has no definite plan

Kashani also blamed the Department of Environment (DOE), saying they have no firm plan to address the air pollution.

On the other hand, Masoumeh Ebtekar chief of DOE, by sharing an infographic indicating temperature inversion on her Instagram, explained that Tehran’s air pollution has improved compared to three years ago as the number of the excellent air quality and good air quality has increased relatively.

Who is responsible?

Despite the fact that there are many organizations tasked with coming up with plans to mitigate air pollution none has ever succeeded in making any tangible progress and the beginning of the autumn is always synonymous with onset of suffocating air pollution and officials who place the blame on one another or believe they have made progress. But those who are really at loss are the citizens who are involuntarily breathing the poisonous air in and are suffering the severe consequences.

MQ/MG

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