The high values of PM 10 particles did not wait for the low temperatures, nor did the heating season come to full realization. The polluted air slowly, but surely, becomes our everyday life, and we are aware that it will only get worse. Health organizations have already identified toxic air as a silent killer, and evidence of this is 500,000 deaths a year, published by the European Environment Agency and which directly links these deaths to diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular system, a consequence of poor air quality.
According to reports from the World Health Organization, 41 countries in Europe are dealing with toxic air, and Macedonia is in the worst state of all. Of course, this is not something we don’t already know, we have lived in that agony and breathed poisons for more than ten years. Skopje and Tetovo were in the top spots on the list of the most polluted cities in the world, with concentrations of PM 10 particles of 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. But these values are debatable, because it is the upper limit measured by the measurement stations of the Ministry of Environment, so the figures may have been even worse.
However, neither the catastrophic figures nor the rankings we received from European organizations, nor the appeals of citizens and environmental organizations, weren’t awakening for the ministry nor for local governments, as if the people who work there don’t live in these cities. In half a year we have already met the annual limit of 35 days in which pollution levels above the minimum values are allowed.
At winter’s doorstep, two out of the measuring stations, those in Lisice and Gazi Baba, are still not working, and the ministry will put them back to use when they are repaired. They did not say when, maybe next year. However, there is work day and night on construction sites, and with the municipalities’ blessings, more and more construction sites are being opened, and not just anywhere but in parks. And instead of opening the budget and taking out five, six... millions of euros and paying the investor at Majcin Dom and mark it as a park once and for all, they drew a new industrial capacity mark in the yard of former Zelezara, two or three kilometers from the center of Skopje. As if it is not a bit that every second week comes out for a video with black smoke from the already existing facilities. And this is another business on state property for someone to earn another million at the expense of our health.
No one is listening to the citizens’ appeal, especially those who manage our money so gallantly. And everything is clear to them. We want air - clean air, no less, - and we want it throughout the year. If you need to reimburse the investor so that he wouldn’t touch one of the few remaining green parts, do ahead and reimburse him, all of us will give our blessings for that money, much more than investing them in some tiles or styrofoam. But then we want you to look for those who allowed this crime so they could reimburse our money. Shrugging your shoulders in a “it is what it is” manner, “we tried everything”, will not be accepted anymore. This urban construction insanity must end before it’s too late.
Buy people new heaters or inverters, but not just 100 or 200 per year, because only in Skopje there are more than 50,000 families who are heating their homes using wood and they are breathing poison while they are doing so. According to your dynamics, you will subsidize new heaters in the next 200 years and more. While for those who build buildings, there must be some order. The construction season must have a beginning and an end, and demolition and dusting when the air is contaminated must be prohibited. All these actions can be taken immediately, although we know it's easier to talk about medium and long-term measures, which we may not even live to see.
And finally, show us the results that the environmental inspectors have achieved in the field. There are only a few, the City of Skopje has four, the municipalities have one or two, but it is as if there is not one. How is it possible that there is no one penalized? As if everyone is working according to Swedish laws and practices. None of the chimneys pollute, no measurement results are intact, how convenient. Unfortunately, our lungs beg to differ.