The City Hall replied to statements made by the Environment Minister regarding pollution in Bucharest
Two years ago, the air quality in Bucharest fell below the accepted standards. Whereas according to measures implemented across the EU, there must not be more than 35 days a year with pollution values above normal limits, in Bucharest there were 70 days when levels were over 30% above the limit.
After the information concerning the air quality in Bucharest was circulated heavily in the media, on Monday the Minister for Environment, Waters and Forestry Costel Alexe visited the air quality monitoring unit in central Bucharest, and took the opportunity to lash at the Bucharest Mayor General, Gabriela Firea, for failing to implement any of the measures proposed in this respect.
The City Hall was no late in retorting. In a news release, Gabriela Firea says what has not been done in decades cannot be made up for in 36 months. According to her, the independent air quality measurement networks, administered by the Environment Ministry, are not authorised or certified. The quality indices the Ministry mentioned are temporary values recorded in the monitoring units by other methods than gravimetric analysis, and as such they are not validated.
The Mayor’s list of measures already taken includes the upgrade of the public transport system in Bucharest over the past 3 years. The Municipality earmarked 474 million euros from the local budget and non-reimbursable EU funds for the purchase of 830 new buses and other transport means. As many as 400 new buses are already in circulation in Bucharest, while another 130 Mercedes Benz hybrid buses will reach the city this spring, and plans are afoot for the procurement of another 100 trolleybuses, 100 electric buses and 100 trams.
Mayor Gabriela Firea also mentioned that the routes of 5 heavily used tram lines have been separated from the rest of the traffic, that nearly 30,000 vouchers for bicycle purchases were distributed between 2017 and 2019, and that in 2018 a project was launched targeting the construction of 4 bicycle lanes totalling over 48 km. An eco-voucher system has been initiated, in order to eliminate highly polluting vehicles, and a pilot project has been put in place with respect to school buses.
Last but not least, as of this month Bucharest has introduced the OXIGEN vignette sticker programme, aimed at introducing road taxes resulting in reducing traffic in the city centre and consequently in improving air quality. The money collected under this programme will be used exclusively for environment protection measures.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)