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Winter in Bishkek: why black snow falls

Added Sun, 03/04/2022
Дата публикации
Sun, 03/04/2022

The air in Bishkek is among the dirtiest on the planet. In February, the UN Environment Program put him in second position.

Most residents of private houses continue to heat the premises with coal.

[Maria Kolesnikova, Chairwoman of MoveGreen]:

"During the heating season, according to our analysis, we literally breathe unsafe air for five months a year."

Maria Kolesnikova is the chairman of the nature protection organization MoveGreen. He says that not only coal is used.

[Maria Kolesnikova, Chairwoman of MoveGreen]:

"Our population is also poor and drowns with tires, sometimes with plastic, and other various prohibited products, such as leftovers from textiles. The textile industry in Kyrgyzstan is very developed."

Even in the city center, where there is gas, it is much cheaper to heat with coal or other materials. Ulan Turmambetov has been living with his wife and three children in his own house in Bishkek since 2010. There is no gas supply in his area.

[Ulan Turmambetov, a resident of Bishkek]:

"Three or four years ago, they said that they would gasify, specialists arrived, drew projects, removed them, left. Three or four years have passed since then, there is still no news about gasification."

To heat the house, it takes about three tons of coal per month.

[Ulan Turmambetov, a resident of Bishkek]:

"The first snow fell, and it was black. Why? Because everything we burned – fabrics, firewood, coal – flew in the air along with the snow. This dirt and dust settled in the form of black ash. We saw it with our own eyes."

However, according to statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the private sector accounts for only 27% of atmospheric pollution. The first place is taken by transport. And the Bishkek thermal power plant, which burns more than a million tons of coal per season, is in third place in the city's rating of "the most polluting factors". The proximity of a huge landfill with an area of 85 hectares also contributes. Fires often break out on it.

Experts say that it will not be possible to solve the problem at once. We need a comprehensive approach. The authorities promise to reduce dependence on coal and switch more to alternative energy sources.

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