Less Talking, More Doing

The municipality is supposed to replace 6,500 gasoline-powered taxis with hybrid vehicles every year
Tehran has been held hostage by toxic smog for days.Tehran has been held hostage by toxic smog for days.

A Tehran councilor has criticized the city's municipality and its chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, for failing to do their part to help address the city's air pollution crisis.

Speaking at the council's 606th session on Tuesday, Mohsen Sarkhou, chairman of Tehran City Council’s Urban Traffic and Transport Committee, said the municipality "has everything it needs" to tackle air pollution, IRNA reported.

"Every year at this time (when smog blankets the city), the mayor starts saying that if he's giving the authority, he'll be able to end the pollution crisis," he said. "It's unclear who he's addressing; if it's the city council, we've given him complete freedom to do what must be done."

Sarkhou said the council has approved bills ranging from expanding the metro system to renewing and increasing the fleet of buses and taxis.

"The municipality's performance in renewing the public transportation fleet has been subpar," he added.

According to the councilor, the municipality is supposed to replace 6,500 gasoline-powered taxis with hybrid vehicles every year, "but only a small number of hybrids have been purchased and added to the fleet".

Tehran, and many other metropolises, has been grappling with smog for days, with the air quality index in the sprawling capital registering 156 for the past three days—three times the acceptable threshold of 50, based on World Health Organization standards.

Falling within the "red status", an AQI that high means the level of toxic pollutants in the air poses health risks to each and every person, and not just those deemed vulnerable.

Schools were closed on Tuesday and at all levels on Wednesday.

On Monday, Seyyed Hossein Hashemi, governor general of Tehran Province, criticized the traffic police for failing to enforce regulations and allowing cars without a valid permit to enter restricted zones.

"The police must step up its game. Their performance is important to reducing air pollution," he was quoted as saying by ILNA.

Hashemi urged the general public to carpool and use public transportation, saying that single-passenger vehicles only contribute to air pollution and cause traffic.

Every year with the drop in temperature in winter, a phenomenon known as temperature inversion occurs during which cold air underpins warm air at higher altitude, leading to the entrapment of air pollutants in the city, which causes heavy smog.

Officials at Tehran Air Quality Control Company say air quality will improve over the weekend, with fewer cars on the streets and atmospheric changes that will cause winds, which will help blow the smog away.

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