Sofia City Council to vote on measures against dirty air

Written by on January 24, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Sofia City Council to vote on measures against dirty air

The catastrophic air quality in Sofia around January 8, when breathing in the Bulgarian capital was almost like inhaling fumes directly from the exhaust pipe of an old Diesel car, with Particulate Matter (PM) concentrations exceeding the recommended maximal dose up to 26 times, has led to more discussions within Sofia Municipality.

Actual measures against the dirty air should actually be taken on bad days, the Environmental Protection Commission within the municipality now believes. The implementation is to begin in February, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reports. On Thursday, the Sofia City Council will vote on the proposed measured.

They include parking bans in both the Blue and Green zones in and around Sofia’s city centre. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandukova will have the power to order the introduction of free rides on the city’s public transport, if the City Council votes in favour.

A “Green Ticket” is a similar measure, which is being discussed. On days with a lot of pollution, commuters would pay 1 lev (0.51 euro) for the entire day and all tram, bus and metro lines. A parking ban would come into force simultaneously. One day it would affect cars with even numbers on their numberplates, the next day those with uneven numbers.

BNT quoted Lorita Radova, the Chairlady of the Commission for Protection of the Environment, Agriculture and Forests. She said, the residents would be informed beforehand and have the opportunity to accept the “Green Ticket” offer.

The bundle of measures, which the commission wants to implement on days on which the recommended concentration of Particulate Matter is exceeded, also includes an “extra washing and sweeping of streets”, and charges for the use of excavators and bulldozers, according to Lorita Radova.

An air quality forecast is something the Environmental Protection Commission wants to offer the residents of Sofia, along with an official measuring system, which provides real-time data on the Particulate Matter concentration in Sofia’s breathing air.

Sofia is one of the dirtiest cities in Europe, what the air pollution is concerned. Up to now, hardly any measures were ever taken, apart from the purchase of new buses and trams. This is supposed to change very soon, should the City Council vote for those measures. At the same time NGOs dealing with environmental issues do not believe “Green Tickets” or parking bans are enough.

Early this morning, the air quality was sort of acceptable in most parts of Sofia. But at 6am, the PM10 concentration in the Krasna Polyana neighbourhood was twice the recommended concentration. There were elevated levels in the Serdika, Orlandovtsi, Levski and Yavorov quarters as well.

On Tuesday evening, things looked worse. In many parts of Sofia, the PM concentration exceeded recommended levels three times. Compared to the days around January 8, those elevated concentrations might have looked harmless, but they weren’t.






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