The urbanization, operations of industrial zones and enterprises within the city, a large number of city transportation and the waste put a significant burden on the urban ecosystem. Therefore, citizens are often concerned about its preservation and improvement, cleaning of city canals and rivers, recycling of both industrial and household waste. For the city authorities this is also an urgent, paramount task. The article “The environment of Tashkent” describes how these problems are solved by the city authorities.
Considering the importance of environmental protection, the Department for Ecology and Environmental Protection was established, the main tasks and activities of which are the implementation of state environmental control over compliance with legislation in the area of use and protection of nature, the creation of necessary conditions for its preservation and many other aspects.
Monitoring of pollution of atmospheric air, surface waters and soils in the city is carried out in the framework of the program developed in accordance with the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan of August 23, 2016 “On Approval of the Program of Environmental Monitoring in the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2016-2020”, which is carried out by the staff of the Department on a quarterly basis, and Khokimiyat of the city controls these processes not to allow exceedance of the limits of norms of atmospheric air pollution. In addition, there is a constant search for effective methods to improve the environmental situation of the city.
Water resources play an important role in maintaining the purity of the atmospheric air of the city. Each capital, the major cities of the world have their own main river, providing residents with water and beauty and having practical application. Our capital is adorned by the Chirchik river, 92 large and small canals, of which 17 are the main ones (Bozsu, Kichirik, Ankhor, Salar, Burjar, etc.), 21 interdistrict canals, 46 small irrigation networks and 8 collectors, and almost every street has numerous ditches. The total length of our urban waterways is 337,992 km. The ecological well-being of the capital and the population health largely depend on the condition of canals and rivers, which are an integral part of the aesthetics of the city, unique natural sources of moisture and clean air, providing the city with the necessary microclimate, especially in the dry summer season. Therefore, among the most important tasks of the Khokimiyat are works on strengthening and cleaning the banks of canals and rivers, their cleaning, preserving the necessary water level in them, as well as combating violators that pollute the waters and banks of canals. Thus, as a result of raids inspections organized by state inspectors Tashkent city Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection and measures taken, 547 cases of violation of cleanliness along the banks of canals and the Chirchik river were revealed and 135.55 million soum-fine was imposed.
Jointly with the staff of the Department of Operation and Improvement of Adjacent Territories of Tashkent City Canals, works were carried out to clean the canals from various types of waste and 17.1 thousand cubic meters of garbage was removed, 341.8 thousand meters of banks were landscaped. Also, together with industrial enterprises located on the right bank of the Chirchik river, works were carried out to clean up various types of waste and improve the surrounding areas with a total area of more than 90,000 square meters.
Atmospheric air. Currently, there are 12 stationary posts of Uzhydromet in Tashkent, which take samples of atmospheric air around the clock. According to meteorologists, the index of atmospheric pollution for the five main substances in the capital does not exceed 3.6, which corresponds to the indicator of low pollution. The main factor of pollution of the urban ecosystem is, of course, transportation, the share of which in total emissions in Tashkent is more than 95 percent. If the industrial enterprises pollute the territory and the air surrounding them, the emissions from transportation because of their mobility are omnipresent and pervasive. They contain more than 200 harmful substances that adversely affect the health of residents. Malfunction in engine performance increases emissions of pollutants.
In the period from 1995 to 2019, the number of vehicles in Tashkent has increased more than 3 times and, of course, the consumption of fuel has increased too, which led to an increase in emissions of pollutants into the air. However, the planned measures to reduce emissions from vehicles actively carried out by the capital’s Khokimiyat jointly with various organizations, allow achieving the reduction of pollution and bringing positive results. So, if in 1996 the number of cars exceeding the standards of toxicity of exhaust gases was 25-27%, this year the “Clean Air” campaign showed that today there are only about 6% of cars with increased toxicity and smoke exhaust gases in Tashkent. The campaign was carried out in the capital from April 10 to May 10 and from September 10 to October 10, 2019 in order to check transportation on the highways of the city for toxicity and smokiness of exhaust gases. These events are held in the capital annually in order to reduce environmental pollution emissions from vehicles, and bring positive results, because they allow to analyze the situation and regulate the mechanisms of its solution. Therefore, the situation is under control. Also, if in 1991 emissions from passenger transportation in Tashkent amounted to 393 thousand tons, and emissions on average per 1 car amounted to 2.62 tons per year, at the moment they are respectively 395 thousand tons and 0.88 tons per year. The figures indicate a very small increase in emissions (almost 30 years) from passenger transportation and a significant decrease from the personal vehicles of citizens. The planned reduction of emissions is achieved primarily through environmental monitoring, intensive expansion of the system of underground crossings and underground transportation (new metro lines), significantly unloading ground transportation, as well as the construction of new bridges and overpasses, traffic flow regulation, improvement of the quality of the road surface and, of course, the introduction of innovative modern buses, trucks and personal vehicles. Thus, in the IV quarter of 2019, the passenger transportation fleet was replenished with 190 buses and in the I quarter of 2020 it will be supplemented by another 160 buses corresponding to the EURO-3, EURO-4 and EURO-5 classes, with 10 times lower emission rates compared to the old diesel ones, which completely eliminates the possibility of smoke and pollution of the environment, since they operate on compressed gas. In this regard, it is planned to dispose of diesel buses. Next in line is another novelty – electric cars and electric scooters. Now the electric bus of the Belarusian production is being tested and, perhaps, the electric transportation will also soon receive a permanent residence in our city.
A lot of educational work is carried out in the media with drivers about the causes that affect the amount of emissions: optimal operating conditions, rapid acceleration, braking and uncalculated passage of intersections, etc. factors. The newspaper “Vecherniy Tashkent” has a column in which articles on environmental issues are constantly published. Constant monitoring and other measures allow the Khokimiyat together with Tashkent city Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection to achieve positive results.
Green area. Trees are the “lungs” of the city, so works are carried out on a regular basis on greening city streets and squares, creating new green areas, as well as protecting trees from illegal logging. Some solution to the problem is provided by fines, but they were not effective enough in the fight against unscrupulous dealers, so the penalties are tightened. This year, the Environmental Party was created, which, with the active support of the public and the State Committee of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan, appealed to the government to impose a moratorium on logging of certain valuable species of trees and shrubs that are not included in the State Forest Fund, except for dried ones and in need of sanitary pruning. The proposal was considered and adopted. The moratorium became effective on November 1, 2019 and will continue until December 31, 2020 on the basis of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated October 30, 2019 “On approval of the Concept of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2030”. According to the document, during the period of the moratorium, the authorized state bodies are prohibited from issuing permits for cutting down valuable species of trees and shrubs. Due to the Presidential Decree, together with the Environmental Movement and the State Committee of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan, it has become much easier for the city authorities to carry out measures to protect trees and to prosecute violators. So, the commissions organized as a part of representatives of Tashkent city Department on Ecology and Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Khokimiyat and other authorized bodies repeatedly organized field missions to survey the green plantings in different areas of the city to identify dried and sick trees. Permission to cut down healthy trees is issued only if they fall into the development zone. Also, an inventory was made, which revealed about 2 million trees in Tashkent, which are entered into a specially created electronic database. This work is already being completed. Now every tree of the capital is registered and it will not be possible to just come and cut it down — the legislation provides not only administrative but also criminal penalties. After all, trees not only decorate our lives, give shade and coolness in the summer heat, but also purify the air, being, in fact, our “filter”. Protecting and increasing green wealth, we will save not only our health, but also our children and grandchildren.
Valuable tree and shrub species include: walnut, pear, gledicia, oak, lankaran acacia, horse chestnut, juniper, chinara, sophora, thuja, ash, tulip tree, magnolia, forsythia.
It should be noted that there are a lot of green areas in Tashkent. In each district of the city there are recreation parks, immersed in greenery, new ones are being built, squares and front gardens with green spaces are everywhere, every street is decorated with a variety of flowers, shrubs and trees. Unlike many megacities and large European cities with very little greenery in the streets and avenues, in Tashkent there is no street where there would be no greenery. No new facility in the capital is built without allocating the necessary area for green spaces — whether it is a residential building, or a business center, or an institution, or a production complex. Green area near a facility is a prerequisite for its construction. Tashkent was a green city, and will remain so with our common respect for green resources.
The issues of recycling and disposal of city waste (industrial, household, fallen leaves, etc.), innovations in this area. One of the most important factors directly affecting the preservation of the urban ecosystem is timely removal of food and household waste of the population, industrial waste from existing enterprises and industries, cleaning the streets and ditches of the city from leaves and debris, as well as their processing and disposal. All of these activities are part of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan of May 18, 2018 “On Measures for Further Improvement of Waste Management Systems” and Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan of October 2, 2018 “On Measures for Further Improvement of Works on Household Waste Disposal”, according to which the authorized agencies are entitled on a permanent basis to exercise appropriate control over the implementation of their provisions, impose penalties in the manner prescribed by law on business entities that violate the above provisions, notify enterprises of bringing their sanitary infrastructures in accordance with the above decisions, and other actions established within their competence.
There are 59 enterprises operating in Tashkent, which have processed and disposed of a total of 160,222,288 tons of various wastes, as well as demercurized 57,287 energy-saving lamps containing toxic mercury substances. The structure of recycled waste is distributed as follows: waste glass — 2928,9 tons; light industry and knitwear — 6700 tons; waste paper — 29112,6 tons; plastic -143 tons; rubber products — 266 533 tons; polyethylene — 25452 305 tons; hair fiber — 0,43 tons; non-ferrous scrap — 9086,013 tons; scrap — 82810,28 tons; cotton pile — 5415,5 tons.
With regard to innovations in this area, there is positive news — within the framework of the adopted Strategy on solid waste management for the period 2019-2028, Uzbekistan is preparing for implementation of the investment project “Introduction of advanced technologies for solid waste disposal” with a total cost of 15 million USD. Plasma waste disposal technology is one of them. It does not require sorting and reduces the cost of disposal, being a simple and cost-effective way, which processes up to 5 tons of waste per day, while not having a negative impact on the environment and public health.
Public norms of cleanliness and order in the city. There are more and more people in our society who are not indifferent to the problems of preserving the urban ecosystem, clean water resources and air, observation of public order. According to the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan (PCM No. 375 of June 15, 2017), reward is provided for persons who have identified environmental violations. Violators of environmental legislation are punished in accordance with article 38 of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan. To identify offenses more quickly a Telegram bot is created as a pilot in Tashkent — a special system of emergency notification, which in the future is planned to be implemented throughout the country. It should be emphasized that it is important not only to report the fact of violation, but also to take preventive measures, namely, it is necessary to educate people to preserve natural resources, and do it everywhere – in the family, in schools, in public places. And a special role in this should be played by the self-governing bodies of citizens (mahalla committees) as the closest structures to the people, which have great powers in cultural and educational work with the population. The awareness raising campaigns with the use of visuals, TV clips, advertising and posters, lectures on the environmental topic, ecotours can be an effective help in this work. With the increase of the general environmental culture of the population, offenses in this sphere of our existence will be sharply reduced.
Plans and prospects. Due to raising the environmental problems as a primary task in the work of the city Khokimiyat and introduction of a system of accounting for each tree, the issue of preservation of old trees is now acute. So it is necessary to create an effective system for combating pests and tree diseases. It is necessary to attract agro-specialists who are able to study each registered tree, determine its age, make a special analysis to identify pests and diseases, choose the means of protection and treatment, properly do their pruning, molding, grafting, and other procedures. It is very hard and huge work, which had not been given a serious attention before. But today, taking into account the increased role and importance of green spaces in maintaining urban ecosystem under the condition of urbanization, the new approaches and the Concept of Environmental Protection the national system of effective methods of pest management of trees and their treatment is required based on international experience, adapted to our resources, as well as experienced professional staff.