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When Breathing is Dangerous

For many years air pollution indicators in Georgia and Tbilisi are widely covered in a lot of international and domestic reports. According to the 2017 December indicator of World Health Organization (WHO), Tbilisi is one of the most polluted cities worldwide, where air pollution norm is 2.9 times worse.

According to information from the air quality monitoring stations, the worst air pollution in Tbilisi in recorded on Tsereteli Avenue, Marina Arabidze, head of environment pollution monitoring department at National Environment Agency, noted. Air quality monitoring stations are located in 4 places – Tsereteli Avenue, Kazbegi Avenue, Varketili and Vashliljvari. The best situation is reported in Vashlijvari, Marina Arabidze said.

As to the results from King Tamar Avenue, nitrogen dioxide exceeds the norm 1.3 times and transport is the main source, Noe Megrelishvili, head of atmosphere air management, noted.

Specialists agree that there are a lot of factors that cause such heavy outcomes and unbiased inspection of vehicles is an only solution.

Since introduction of the technical inspection component, starting January 1, 2018, a total of 2555 transport means were fined for violation of technical inspection regulations. According to Shalva Uriadmkopeli, head of safety service of Transport Agency,  in the mentioned period, the technical inspection was passed by 38 199 passenger and cargo vehicles, of which 858 transport means were barred to drive, including yellow minibuses.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has also talked about air pollution problem and technical inspection of vehicles. In this direction Tbilisi City Hall will have to take unpopular steps. It is known that a special plan is being prepared for air pollution prevention and this plan will be publicized in the near future, Kakha Kaladze noted.

“Starting July 1, technical inspection of state vehicle fleet and vehicles owned by legal bodies has become mandatory. This is the first step forward for air pollution reduction”, Kakha Kaladze said.

Park rehabilitation works are also very important in terms of ecology. In this context, two historical parks will be rehabilitated, namely, Vake Park and Vera Recreational Zones, he added.

Eka Laliashvili, head of board of Georgia Alliance for Safe Roads nongovernmental organization, says that a special law will regulate quality of diesel and car fleet renewal process starting autumn 2018. Today we have so heavy situation in the capital city that neither recreational zone nor other measures can improve the situation, Eka Laliashvili noted.

The NGO has recently started working jointly with the parliament’s committee for environment protection and natural resources and the working process will end in several months. As a result, all steps will be specified that should be taken in this direction. The bill will be supposedly initiated at the Parliament in September, Laliashvili pointed out.

90% of vehicle fleets in Georgia were manufactured before 2008. According to current legislation, Euro 3 diesel fuel is admitted in Georgia, but its quality is not satisfactory. Restrictions on old vehicles should refer to the taxation component and this aspect will be reflected in legislation. New vehicles should be taxed minimally, Laliashvili noted.

As to fuel quality control and improvement mechanisms, even more so, when the country lacks for corresponding laboratories, Laliashvili says that Government and NGO sector will work on this issue and detailed information will be publicized after this.

As reported, on January 1, 2018, mandatory technical inspection was introduced for passenger and cargo car owners, while on July 1 the same regulations was introduced for government car fleets and transport means owned by legal entities.

In Georgia the obligatory periodical technical inspection, under new standards, came into force on January 1, 2018. A certain transient period was set for full-scale enforcement of periodical technical  inspection for all vehicles and the process will continue for 2 years.

Doctor of economics Rati Abuladze says that air pollution results in serious social and economic outcomes. It makes negative impact on tourism, reduces human capabilities, grows social losses. Air pollution is a considerable challenge to the public health. These problems may be resolved through constant supervision and preventive measures, while these measures requires considerable budget funds.

According to the World Bank indicators, more than 5 trillion USD is spent on air pollution reduction measures worldwide, he said. “Today, our society needs  to minimize air pollution with harmful substances. In terms of air pollution we should differentiate transport and industrial sectors. For air pollution prevention, we welcome technical inspection component and  emission level should meet standards”, Rati Abuladze said.

It should be stressed that the existing social and economic situation determines the structure of the existing car fleet too. The fact is that Georgia has outdated car fleet. We should also realize that in Georgia a vehicle is also a mean  for receiving incomes and sustaining family (this is a certain unregistered economy). Consequently, if we restrict our citizens to move by “Old Cars» (if they fail inspection), social situation will worsen and we will receive social segregation, Rati Abuladze said.

It would be moral to develop the machine-building field and construct even one vehicle plant in the vehicles technical inspection process (that would reduce the imports), Rati Abuladze said.

«Both technical inspection issues and efficiency of inspection of industrial organizations should be taken into account for the contrast of development. Finally, with the aim to ensure clean air in the country, city development aspects should be also taken into account, as well as ecological capital exploitation and other environmental issues», Abuladze noted.

Andria Gvidiani, analyst for Association of Young Financiers and Businessmen:

«I cannot understand people, who contradict technical inspection, follow right-wing ideology and make statements about human rights violations,  because everybody’s rights ends there, where my rights start. And breathing is my right. Consequently. Someone’s damaged vehicle is unacceptable, when it violates my rights», Gvidiani noted.

Full-scale enforcement of technical inspection is an only mechanism for air pollution problem resolution, as well as arranging recreational parks. Gvidiani says that it will be wonderful if a recreational park is arranged in place of Eliava Fair to somehow improve area conditions in Didube and Tsereteli.

«Indeed, Eliava Fair cannot pollute air, but recreational park in its place will bring many positive effects and green environment will improve air conditions», Gvidiani said.