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Donetsk oblast suffocating with environmental programmes neglected

15.05.2013    source:

The placards read: We will protect our children! We won’t let ourselves be poisoned!  The third is not fully visable but is likely to be about carcinogenic substances

The environmental situation in the Donetk oblast is by far the worst in Ukraine, and promises from the local authorities that millions will be spent on improvements have been heard before.

The annual emissions per kilometer squared in the oblast are eight times higher than the average for Ukraine. The Donetsk oblast has the worst figures for environmental pollution in general.

Deutsche Welle reports that the local authorities assert that because of this situation the oblast needs its own environmental strategy. An environmental protection plan has been drawn up for the period up to 2020.  This was apparently passed by the Regional Council at the end of March.  The head of the Regional Environment Department, Serhiy Tretyakov says that the programme “has its sources of funding and also money from the businesses which are the pollutiors. Just on cleaning the air, the business owners, according to the programme, should allocate 30 billion UAH”.

How do you make them pay?

Serhiy Denysenko, Chair of the Public Council attached to the Department says that they have been hearing promises to spend billions on improving the environment for years.  The environmental authorities’ success, he says, can be assessed by looking at the pollution figures. He points out that there are no mechanisms for forcing the businesses to fork out the money , and no information about any sanctions against the worst polluters.

There are examples where enterprises have rejected out-dated equipment in order to compete on the world market, with a knock-on effect being environmental improvements. However, Serhiy Denysenko points out, where the expensive equipment is only to reduce harm to the environment, and not for economic benefit, the businesses are in no hurry to spend the money.

Serhiy Fedorynchyk, member of the Working Group on a Civic Assessment of Ukraine’s Environmental Policy from 2003-2012 says that over the last decade over 300 State and regional programmes have been passed, yet only about 10% of the funding envisaged has actually been provided.

“The majority of these programmes have failed, and they have not once established why. You can therefore talk of 300 managerial disasters”.  Mr Fedorynchyk believes the problem will remain while there are no specific individuals who answer for the programmes. If their jobs were on the line for non-implementation of programmes, the results would be different.

Civic pressure

Deutsche Welle writes that what officials have not managed to achieve, civic activists have. Thanks to the many thousand-strong protests in Mariupol, the Azovstal complex stopped the work of the factory which was most responsible for polluting the air in the city. Environmentalist Anastasia Bohdanovych, however, says that the authorities are still not interested in people’s health.  There’s been protest in Makiyivka over the construction of a pulp recycling factory in a residential area.  The authorities argue that the jobs are needed, but she asks why then they don’t create work on new contemporary production where there isn’t such a danger to health.

Protests over pollution are becoming more and more common in the Donetsk oblast, with the main participants being women,   most  often young mothers.

From the report here

Information about mass protest in Mariupol can be found here and at the link below. 

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