air pollutionEnvironmental Law

Popović: I expect the liability for the air quality in Serbia

I expect someone to take responsibility for the quality of air in Serbia, stated activist for the environmental protection Mirko Popovic for FoNet, while director of the Environmental Protection Agency Filip Radović states that the air quality index demonstrates that the air is temperately polluted in big cities- Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad.

The latest Report of the Environmental Protection Agency for 2017, the only on we can rely on, states that the exceeding of value of polluting materials in few cities in Serbia were more than 100 days in a year, Popović noted, mentioning Valjevo, Užice, Kragujevac and Belgrade. The Report tells us that this state was not only last year, but a few years back, Popović reminded, interweaved by the journalist Andrijane Milaćević in No gloves serial.

If we consider those cities in which the air is too contaminated, categorized by third category, we can conclude that around 2, 5 millions of people in Serbia is frequently exposed to polluted air, Popović said.

Their right on healthy environment has been endangered, he emphasized, referring to the Agency’s report, although he consider that the reliability of those data is very questionable. Popović claims that the Agency’s data are on the level of 22 percent of reliability, but they shall be more than 90 percent so that we can properly determine air quality.

Someone shall be liable for the air quality, Popović stated and clarified that the institution authorized for measurement of the air quality and publishing of the Environmental protection Agency’s data, while the Government of the Republic of Serbia is responsible for quality of life of the citizens. Quality is not on the Government’s agenda and that is the core problem, he estimated and added that the reason for concern lays in public policies.

Popović repeat that the right on healthy environment is prescribed by the Constitution and is the right of every citizen of Serbia, which is not adequately protected. According to them, it is the duty of the competent authorities, when the air has been polluted and the values exceeded, to inform the public and explain how to deal with such situations.

The excuse that the pollution is greater during the heating season is irresponsible and unacceptable, Popovic emphasized. Therefore, he believes that the key problems of air pollution in Serbia are not particles, but irresponsibility, ignorance and poverty, as a consequence of expensive but inefficient public administration. Popović advocates amendments to the Law on Air Protection in the sense that non-compliance is followed by a penalty. We shall understand that the sources of pollution are not just thermal power plants, he added, emphasizing that institutions should explain to citizens how to behave more energy-efficiently, though they also need to be wealthier. Poor citizens cannot apply high air quality standards, stated Popovic, who believes that citizens shall consider that when voting.

On the other hand, Radović states that the air quality index demonstrates that the air is temperately polluted in big cities- Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad. He said that the media’s attention was attracted by frequent popping above the polluting values into the air, which were 50 micrograms per cubic meter per hour, although there were also large exceeding during some days. Let us remind you that Danas has already written about air pollution in Niš, in which the pollution index was twice higher than in Bangkok.

It does not provide picture of the air on the territory of Serbia, it is provided yearly when the Agency put together an annual report on the state of the environment, and the air quality is part of it, Radović said. This is the accurate picture of air quality, he said, suggesting that the health sector shall address impact of pollution on the population.

Certainly, pollution is not good, 6,000 people die of airborne diseases in Serbia every year, Radović said, convinced that there are no need for panic and alarm. Relevant data is the only one contained in the Agency’s report, and the latest is for 2017, while for 2018 it will be finished in the second half of this year, Radović announced.

According to him, the public in Serbia is informed on the air quality, since the Agency publishes its data in real time on the site, and has been running mobile phone applications for several years. Accordingly, we inform the public when the air is atrocious, explained Radović, who claims that the measurements are reliable and that citizens can absolutely rely on the Agency’s data on the accurate air quality.

Measurement stations have mostly been donated from IPA funds and our network represents the latest technology. However, there shall be more measurement stations which would increase monitoring, Radović said. He acknowledges, however, that there are reasons for concern, since air pollution is probably the biggest challenge to the health of modern civilization.

Worldwide, six million people die of polluted air a year. According to World Health Organization, nine (9) of ten (10) people on the planet lives in the air polluted area, Radović precised and noted that, unfortunately, Serbia has not avoided those statistics. Serbia needs systemic solutions and that is what I believe the Government of Serbia and the department ministry are doing, Radović said.

According to his announcement, Ministry for environmental Protection will invest half a billion RSD to close boiler rooms and switch to better fuels. Asked if the fees paid by major polluters are being used to protect the environment, he replied that, firstly, they are transferred to the budget and then the Ministry of the Environment’s budget has been determined. Should there be more funds? Yes, of course, Radović is aware, noting that air quality shall be addressed in winter and in summer, not just in emergency situations.

According to his announcement, Ministry for environmental Protection will invest half a billion RSD to close boiler rooms and switch to better fuels. Asked if the fees paid by major polluters are being used to protect the environment, he replied that, firstly, they are transferred to the budget and then the Ministry of the Environment’s budget has been determined. Should there be more funds? Yes, of course, Radović is aware, noting that air quality shall be addressed in winter and in summer, not just in emergency situations.

Published by: FoNet

Transmit: Danas

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