Laws to Curb Pollution Gone With the Wind

The recent directive on phasing out dilapidated vehicles was nullified and other similar laws to reduce air pollution are either neglected or circumvented
Around 80% of air pollution in the country stem from automotive sources.  Around 80% of air pollution in the country stem from automotive sources.

With the recent nullification of the government directive on scrapping dilapidated vehicles, Iranian metropolises are expected to suffer from the all-familiar winter-time smog.

The directive that came into force on Sept. 17 obliged local automotive companies to send one old car to the junkyard for the production of each car with a fuel consumption of over 8.5 liters per 100 kilometers, or else pay 25 million rials ($625), forcing them to remove a gas guzzler from the roads, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

The decree was a spark of hope for the gradual of improvement of air quality, as reportedly 80% of air pollution in Iranian cities stem from automotive sources.

However, at the start of the current cold season, when air quality begins to deteriorate thanks to the phenomenon of inversion, the government abolished the law under pressure from automakers. Soon after, the issuance of license plates for high-consumption vehicles resumed.

Although the government move was welcomed by the auto industry, it was strongly denounced by experts and environmentalists.

Colonel Saeid Rouhi, technical and engineering deputy at Iran’s Traffic Police, has voiced dismay and maintained that phasing out old vehicles is essential to combat air pollution.

“At present, the number of scrapped cars is less than one-tenth of those that receive license plates,” he was quoted as saying by Zist Online.

 Rules Circumvented

This is not the first law aimed at reducing air pollution, which has been ignored. The law on installing diesel particulate filters on diesel-fueled vehicles, which came into force last October, is also widely neglected or circumvented.

Mohammad Ali Ehteram, a faculty member at Shahid Beheshti University, told ISNA that the Department of Environment, which is in charge of monitoring diesel vehicle production lines, does not have a laboratory to test these vehicles.

“Automakers, therefore, obtain an initial confirmation from foreign companies with no guarantee that the requirements are met later during mass production,” he said.

Hossein Izanlou, an environmentalist and car expert, also lamented the lack of clarity in the details of the law, which lead to a great deal of cheating.

“Several carmakers, for instance, install only the shell of the filter without the inner contents and some others use poor-quality DPF and the worn-out filters are later replaced with common mufflers,” he said.

Izanlou added that DOE must randomly test licensed cars to check if DPF has been installed and if so in what condition.

The ban on the production of carbureted motorcycles was another step toward alleviating air quality, with the exception of two-wheelers that were ordered prior to the law’s enactment.

However, according to Colonel Rouhi, the very exception led to the release of up to 400,000 carbureted motorbikes into the market as manufacturers, knowing that the rule is going to be enforced, began to produce higher number of bikes and stored them for later sale.

As things appear, the feeble attempts to curb air pollution have frequently hit the wall, dashing all hope of breathing better air in Iranian metropolises.  

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