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POLLUTION Citizens demand clean air – who is going to hear them?

Skopje these days is facing an enormous problem with the pollution, as a result of which it climbed to the first place of most polluted cities not only in Macedonia, but also in the world.

The citizens are reacting, while the institutions are taking small and not so efficient measures in this relation.

When Skopje found itself on the top of the list of most polluted cities in the world, the Government brought measures with which the winter break of students was extended for two more days, whereas the citizens had free public transportation for a day and a half.

Citizens are angry from the fact that there are still no serious measures, so on that occasion, tomorrow (February 1) a blockade on Drisla landfill is being organized by the “Movement for clean air” that will start at 12 and 5, and according to the organizers will last 15 minutes.

The demands of the citizens are: to have the rulebook for performing inspection supervision changed and harmonizing with the EU norms (dioxins, formaldehydes, furans), to adopt as soon as possible rulebooks for industrial emissions and introducing best production practices for that sector, and termination of the contract with the Italian company – concessionaire because of complete failure to comply with the agreed.

About the initiative “Movement for clean air”, Toni Nikusevski says that they had gathered spontaneously, that the activists of the movement have known each other for years, that they have the same views in this sphere and that all of them are concerned with this problem.

A general view of the city of Skopje, on December 4, 2018.
The World Health Organization listed Skopje as “the most polluted capital in Europe”. / AFP / Robert ATANASOVSKI

View of Skopje. The World Health Organization declared Skopje the most polluted capital in Europe on December 4, 2018. Photo: Robert Atanasovski

“Living this hell…that’s where the idea came from”, says Nikusevski.

The previous week a protest was organized by the organization “Cancerous Society”, for which there were various speculations in the media, and at the same time, they waited until the last moment to

present themselves to the public. The protest was held on Saturday, starting from in front of the Parliament and continuing to the Government of Macedonia.

One of the demands of “Cancerous Society” was for an urgent government session to be immediately convened due to the alarming state of the air quality in the country, which would include experts, doctors, environmentalists, eco-activists and all those who would really help in improving the situation, and for the Government to use all the necessary means for dealing with the problem.

In terms of the communication with the institutions and the public, Nikusevski from the “Movement for clean air” says that they have had meetings with ministers, interviews for the media, so they are not unknown to the public.

According to him, all organizations concerned with this problem, and citizens as well, should unite and together demand for the problems to be solved in a legal and normal manner.

The organizers say that they are giving them a deadline of 15 days for the requests to be fulfilled, and in case they are not, then the next step would be blocking the City of Skopje and filing a lawsuit.

“We have prepared lawyers and materials. Things must change in a normal way”, adds Nikusevski.

The SPO opened a case for the crime “polluting the environment and nature” last year, after which Drisla landfill was fined 8,500 euros. And that’s it. The problems have remained despite the State Environmental Inspectorate having concluded that Drisla is not respecting the protocols for burning medical waste.

Even though the state has had this problem with pollution for many years, in January this year, the Government adopted the draft-program for realizing the Plan for clean air for 2019, which will be based on four components as follows: measures for directly dealing with the causes of the pollution, building public awareness from pre-school to retirement age, regulatory changes necessary for transition to energy systems with low emission and implementation of a platform for coordination and monitoring the realization of the program.

Angela Petrovska

Photos: Robert Atanasovski

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