Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Iran's destructive love affair with cars :: Tehran Times


Tehran Municipality not responsible for air pollution: mayor
. . .
Qalibaf also noted that supporting the private sector in the construction of parking lots is one of the most important plans of the Tehran Municipality.

He stressed that the municipality is not responsible for the current high level of air pollution in Tehran, and added that relevant officials should strive to solve the problem.

Last year, air pollution in Tehran rose to a critical level at least four times, he said.

He lamented that the municipality can neither prevent 1250 additional automobiles from entering Tehran’s streets every day nor implement the plan to phase out run-down cars.

Schools in Tehran were shut down and sick and elderly people told to stay indoors Tuesday as the city continued to choke on a thick blanket of yellow-brown smog.

Tehran's Air Quality Control Unit said the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) -- a standard measurement incorporating carbon monoxide, dust, and other pollutants -- has hovered around the "very unhealthy" level of 160 for several days, AFP reported.

Such alerts are becoming increasingly common, with increased traffic causing the sprawling city's air to be deemed unhealthy for at least 100 days of the year. This week the situation is worse due to a total lack of wind.

Many of the two million plus vehicles in the city of 10 million are more than 20 years old and consume cheap subsidized petrol at an alarming rate. Private car ownership has also exploded, with the public transport system failing to provide adequate coverage.

The government has proposed various steps to resolve the problem, such as phasing out the old cars and restricting vehicle use on certain days of the week -- but so far none have been effectively applied.

According to a recent study, each resident of Tehran - now considered one of the world's most polluted cities - inhales an estimated 7.1 to 9.3 kilograms (15.6 to 20.5 pounds) of dust every year.

Note: The current president of Iran was its former mayor.

Policy Options

Option A: Rationalize prices by removing subsidies on gasoline, and charging for parking. Tax automobiles according to the amount they pollute. Create institutions capable of enforcing the rule of law.

Option B: Distract citizens from internal threat of government's failure to curtail pollution by overstating external threats.



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