During the last several years, Isfahan, a city in the center of Iran, has been placed among the most polluted cities in the world. I would like to talk about some reasons to show urban planners how political processes distraught urban environment.
According to Isfahan governer, in polluted days of winter, daily, 500 tons of sulfur is poured over the city. A MP claimed that sometimes it even exceeds this number. While the sulfur mainly comes from burning mazut in power plants, and power plants’ owners know about its social and environmental impacts, they perefer to continue burning mazut. Dirty oil or mazut is cheaper than natural gas, so it can be more profitable to ignore environmental codes and use mazut. There are several reasons why no one can stop them: first, the Ministry of Energy and the Department of Environment work separately. Second, the Ministry of Energy only focuses on producing energy. Third, the Department of Environment experts denies the role of power plants in pollution. Forth, general attorney does not pay attention to the complaints.
There are many farms around the city. Each year the farmers burn bagasse; in turn the Department of Environment takes penalty. In fact, the fine which is paid is much lower than what is defined by environmental codes. Thus, it is a win-win game for both farmers and authorities. Even if a person wants to buy bagasse for use in environment-friendly activities, the Department of Environment tries to prevent him from doing so.
More than 30% of polluted industries are located in Isfahan. Having a major role in GDP, gives these industries enough power to break the rules. The Department of Environment has to continue its efforts to enforce the law; it can be so challenging when industries take the advantages of governmental support.
There are only few examples that show political structure is impotent to follow environmental goals. Based on what we described, each stakeholder is trying to defend their benefits. While stakeholders are seeking to gain more income and decrease the expenses, without heeding environmental consequences, the mass are deadly quiet and the elites are unable to design proper reactions.
So what can / should we do, if we intend to live in the city? There are three options ahead:
- Being silent, suffering or thinking about personal interests, the way most of Iranians have lived for years;
- Traveling, escaping or immigrating to another countries, which has shaped the future of young generations especially young talents;
- Accepting the present condition, analyzing the problem and supporting what we believe, which is called fighting.
Regarding the last notion, Blue Esfahan committee has been organized to stand for what is called clean air or the basic right to life.