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Air pollution in Tbilisi and the first ever thematic group research.

By Inga Kakulia
Friday, May 10
The first ever thematic group research on the topic of air pollution was recently completed. The Thematic Group for Atmospheric Air Pollution conducted meetings with the interested parties and brought attention to some new initiatives that need more awareness and discussion around them. The Environmental Committee has already made recommendations public. The report on the state of Air in Tbilisi, Georgia highlighted the main issues and suggested some ways to improve the current situation.

According to the Parliamentary Committee of Environmental Protection and Natural Resource vehicle exhaust is the main cause of air pollution in Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi.

Based on a report by the State Audit Office of Georgia, there are two main sources of air pollution: emissions from stationary sources – emission of harmful substances from industrial and construction sites and emissions from moving sources – vehicles.

Recent studies show that atmospheric air in Georgia’s capital is becoming more and more polluted. The situation in Tbilisi is already alarming.

According to the research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) Tbilisi is among the cities with most air-pollution. Chemical compound nitrogen dioxide, which is the result of exhaust, reaches critical levels in several districts of the capital.

According to the representatives of Environmental Pollution Monitoring Agency, nitrogen dioxide is especially increased on Tsereteli Avenue. According to them, the average indexes of nitrogen dioxide with indicator measurement were also revealed on Rustaveli Avenue, Melikishvili Street, Metro station 'Technical University' and other streets where the intensive movement of transport is observed.

Some of the topics covered in the research are motor vehicle exhaust, constructions and construction dust, fuel quality and monitoring, asbestos brushes and asbestos products as well as the impact of polluted air on people and facilitation of the use of ecologically clean transport.

The government has been trying to implement some changes to improve the condition of the air in the capital. One of the most recent activities is the introduction of new environmentally friendly buses. Recently, Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze, together with Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, introduced more environment-friendly buses to the general public.

Kakha Kuchava, the Chairman of the Environmental Committee later explained that, along with the recommendations published in the report, these ideas were discussed within the committee and are considered for implementation. The research presented multiple topics for future focus. One of the controversial issues is the introduction of special taxes for the families owning 3 or more automotive vehicles.

The group also introduced the idea of promoting and encouraging the use of bicycles; walking or using environmentally clean public transport. It was also proposed to completely ban the use of vehicles in some parts of the city, specifically the ones with a higher density of population. The proposed initiative is a relevant one; however, it will be a challenge to implement it. In the city where traffic and driving a car feels like a natural part of the daily routine, it is doubtful that citizens will be convinced to give up their habits.

The environmental movement as a whole is gaining more and more attention, starting from student activism to legislative changes. Georgia Natura has long been its most significant asset in this regard.

Implementing a variety of changes will feasibly prevent the gradual environmental pollution of the city. It’s evident that the citizens and government alike are becoming more and more aware of the level of the pollution in Tbilisi and all the possible dangers that the current state of air in the capital can bring. Even though some of the initiatives in the research might seem unrealistic, the project still contributes to the raised awareness and will hopefully encourage more people to get involved.