People, Environment

Lax Enforcement of Rules Exacerbates Air Pollution

Lax Enforcement of Rules Exacerbates Air PollutionLax Enforcement of Rules Exacerbates Air Pollution

Non-compliance with global standards and poor enforcement of regulations are the main causes of Tehran’s persisting air pollution, the head of Tehran’s Air Quality Control Company said. 

Speaking at a conference on the role of state organizations in reducing air pollution last week, Vahid Hosseini added that dilapidated cars and diesel vehicles, as well as motorcycles, are major contributors to the city’s air pollution, which strikes every year in winter, ISNA reported.

“Around one million motorbikes ply the streets of Tehran, many of which are equipped with carburetors that are both fuel-intensive and highly polluting,” he said, blaming the issuance of environmental permits for the production of such two-wheelers over the past years. 

The production of carburetor-equipped motorcycles has been banned since September. However, the official expressed uncertainty about the quality of fuel-injection motorcycles that are meant to replace their polluting predecessors. 

Hosseini noted that “the actual price of the new motorbikes will naturally be higher”, making them less affordable for the public.

The enforcement of Euro-4 standard for cars has been a step in the right direction but diesel vehicles still have Euro-3 standard, which is “a sign of gross negligence”, he said 

“Diesel vehicles emit highly toxic and carcinogenic pollutants, but not much attention has been given to them,” he said. 

  Automakers’ Influence

Three years ago, a directive obligated the installation of diesel particulate filters on all new diesel vehicles but the Industries Ministry—influenced by carmakers—prevented it from going into effect.

However, earlier this month, a new directive was approved, which compels auto manufacturers to install DFP filters on diesel vehicles, unless the car complies with international standards. 

While at first glance the directive may seem like a positive measure, Hosseini believes it is anything but, because it still allows diesel vehicles, which are inherently polluting regardless of the standards they meet.

“Such an anti-environment measure was taken at a time when the city was struggling with the highest level of pollution,” he complained. 

Criticizing another unenforced regulation, Hosseini said a 2013 government directive that bans diesel vehicles over 20 years old from the streets has not gone into effect.

“There are still thousands of heavy vehicles well past their time roaming the streets,” he said. 

Intercity buses and trucks undergo technical inspection and obtain licenses, but after 20 years of use they are transferred from the roads to city streets, instead of heading to the junkyard. 

The trend has continued until this day, despite the 2013 directive. Around 130,000 heavy vehicles currently roam around Tehran, some 50,000 of which are older than 20 years.    

“We only need to abide by global standards and strictly enforce the rules,” said Hosseini, strongly criticizing the widespread corruption in the procedures of obtaining standard licenses.  

Hosseini added that most carmakers ignore their social responsibilities and only focus on “maximizing their profits”, so it is the duty of state organizations to monitor their practices closely and ensure their compliance with international standards.

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