By M.A. Saki

Air pollution and the war of wills 

December 4, 2019

TEHRAN - With the arrival of cold season air pollution spreads its shadow over cities, especially big ones.

Many proposals have been presented over the past years to reduce air pollution, but no concrete measures have been taken so far.

However, anybody who is aware of the complexities surrounding the issue does not expect a miraculous solution to the problem.

The illegal and cruel sanctions by the Trump administration on Iran has made the situation more complicated. Sanctions have made it almost impossible for Iran to benefit from new technologies in auto industry. Companies which had signed or were about to sign partnership agreements with local car companies left Iran because of sanctions.

Even if responsible bodies start to reduce air pollution from today it will take many years to resolve it.

Also, there is no single solution to the issue. But one thing is certain: the air pollution is taking toll on the citizens.

Shina Ansari, chief of environment and sustainable development at the Municipality of Tehran, says air pollution costs the capital up to $2.6 billion per year.  

The Majlis Research Center has also cited the World Bank as saying that "the cost of air pollution in Tehran is $2.6 billion per year." It says, "The estimate only considers human health effects."

Alireza Raisi, the deputy health minister, told ISNA in an interview published on Monday that density of air pollution in certain regions in Tehran has reached 30 times above the normal level. 

He said that pollution is not just restricted to Tehran. The health official said now cities such as Shiraz, Isfahan and Ahvaz are not immune from air pollution.

Raisi said Health Minister Saeed Namaki has written a letter to Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi complaining that air pollution intensifies spread of influenza virus which also resurfaces in cold seasons and has so far taken the lives of 56 people.

There are certain reasons for air pollution but only experts can determine the share of each pollutant. In big cities like Tehran diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles are the main culprits.

In its newest report the Majlis Research Center said "more than 2.6 million below Euro 4 standards sedans are currently moving around the capital city." 

Motorbikes, which their number reaches hundreds of thousands in the metropolis of Tehran, should also be blamed. 

Even some experts believe that each motorbike, because of its faulty combustion system, produces gas emissions much more than a car. For example, in the recent days the density of air pollution was high in Qom, a city full of outdated motorbikes.

Reducing air pollution entails the cooperation of different government bodies such as municipalities in developing public transportation system, environment departments in enforcing environment-friendly laws, or industry ministry in obliging companies to produce fuel efficient cars and standard motorbikes. 

It also needs cooperation by the citizens. They can be encouraged to avoid using private cars at least on smoggy days.  

On November 15, when the government decided to increase petrol price, which is still much cheaper than its real value, a great majority of citizens, no matter in which part of the country they live, reacted negatively. 

Though the government did not increase petrol price because of air pollution, it can help reduce the pace of ever-increasing consumption of petrol at least for some months.

Air pollution is a monster that its defeat is not easy. A strong will and continuous effort is needed. The campaign against air pollution entails cooperation by every single citizen to those at the top managerial posts.

From those farmers who burn straw stubble up to  those citizens who use private cars even for short distances or heat their houses above a certain temperature in cold days as well as those companies that produce fuel-inefficient and substandard vehicles and those officials who have been hesitant to bring fuel prices to the market value must realize that the health of citizens is above anything else.

PA/MG


 

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