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The Town of the XXI Century 

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The Town of the XXI Century
Series of reports on ecological situation in Central Asia



Let us turn to another example. The experience of many foreign countries shows that thanks particularly to the "greens" it was possible to prevent the attempts to bury toxic wastes, many plants throwing away toxic wastes were closed.

For example, about 10 years ago the south western region of Texas populated by indigenous tribes was "thriving" on production of pesticides. The plant was located close to housing districts Soon local people started to notice strange spots on their skins, health of many members of the community deteriorated, abnormal children were born.

It was necessary to do something. That was the time when first ecological organizations appeared. One of them was headed by the philosophy teacher Ruben Solis. He told us that very soon local people had learnt how to organize actions of protest. At the beginning very few of them believed that it would be possible to influence the activities of wealthy enterprises. Nevertheless, some measures to protect the environment were taken.

This example turns our attention to the fact that people living in Texas educated in western democratic conditions, probably, learnt quite well the famous phrase from Ilf and Petrov: "Salvation of the drowning is the business of the drowning". Even if the Orhus Convention was not signed, still people of Texas learnt that as taxpayers they had the right to get ecological information, had the right to preserve the environment, and the right to appeal to the court, if their rights were violated.


In 1986-1990 a complex program "To develop and implement measures to improve the conditions of the air basin of the city of Almaty" was implemented in Kazakhstan. Many scientific research and planning institutes of the city participated in the program. Particularly, the main sources of pollution of the city of Almaty were studied.

So, the production union "Kitap" threw out lead.

Dust of the cyclones of "Porshen" plant contained the abnormal quantities of wolfram and copper, cobalt, chrome and silver.

Wastes of the Almaty railroad car building plant contained chrome, manganese, nickel. When the form mixtures were poured, lead, silver, wolfram and zinc were thrown out into the atmosphere.

Around the vegetable and fruit conservation plant the main source of air pollution was represented by the boiler room, which was burning crude oil. The surrounding territories were polluted by ashes and heavy metals.

Heavy metal pollution resulting from operations of the power producing devices of heat power plants #1 and #2 was related to burning of coals and crude oil. The ashes of coals shipped from Karaganda and Kuchinsk basins were distinguished by high concentration of vanadium, arsenic and mercury. Flying ashes, arriving in the atmosphere were bearing these elements and also lead, copper and phosphorus.

The Almaty Heavy Machinery Plant contributed lead and mercury to the overall pollution of the city. This was related to cast iron melting.

At the same time the Center of health protection under the auspices of the Ministry of health protection studied the health of the people living in the city. Regions of the so called specific diseases were identified. In these regions there is a classic correlation between diseases and harmful substances, which pollute the air basin of Almaty.

But this was a government program, and it had to be carried out by executing serious of the city-level events, including such ones as installation of cleaning filters at industrial plants and factories, redistribution of public transportation routes.

At that time no one of the people living in the city, the air of which was and still is among the most polluted in the Republic, could imagine that they had the right to demand urgent and effective measures to be taken by city officials to decrease the amounts of harmful wastes, which were thrown into the atmosphere of Almaty. By the way, all this information about pollution in Almaty represented a subject of scientific research and was designed mainly for city officials rather than for common people.

Currently the Republic of Kazakhstan actively develops international cooperation in the sphere of environmental protection. People living in Kazakhstan can fight for the clean ecological surroundings as well as the people living in Texas. They have the experience of living in a country, which builds its relationships based on the principles of democracy. This is probably an important factor for the people to be heard.


Europeans like their continent and want it to be clean. Our colleagues from Bulagria published a small reference guide for people working in non-government organizations. It contains some of the predicting factors indicating how badly particular regions of the country are polluted. By the way, this information can be useful not only for NGO staff, but also for any citizen of a country, who does not want to live in dirty air or to drink poisoned water.

You live in a town located not far from lead and zinc processing pkant. It is built on fertile soil. After several years you start to notice that:
·you often have headaches;
·contents of local people's blood have deteriorated;
·local agricultural products sold at other places are not known for being in high demand;
·several children with disabilities were born;
·media publishes materials about dangerous influences of zinc and lead on people's health.

You and your companions do not want to stay away from this problem. Draft a plan of actions.

By the way, not a long time ago, one of the citizens of Almaty tried to speak out for protection of her native city.

The problem is that garbage is burnt on the streets of Almaty. Garbage smokes for hours in old garbage collection containers. Choking fumes enter the apartment buildings irritating eyes and throats. It is difficult to find those responsible for these fires because the fires are usually organized in winters at four o'clock in the morning. And how would want to leave his or her warm bed and go out into dark badly smelling streets trying to reach the garbage dumping area and catch the malefactors? But there was one citizen, or more precisely a lady-citizen, who decided to do that. Let us, by the way, say that she was also a journalist writing about ecological issues. She left her warm apartment and went out into a dark cold street walking to the place where the smoke was coming from. She was really surprised to see a local yard-keeper, who was occupied by sticking an old jacket into a small fire.

-Hello, Grigorievich, - said the journalist. - Did you do such a fire that it is almost impossible to breathe? Are you trying to poison us or what? You probably also can't breathe, can you?

-F- - - you all … - Grigorievich replied - and did not explain what he meant expressing such a deep thought. - If I did not burn the garbage in the mornings, you would drown in it.

Later talking to the yard-keeper the journalist realized that city officials do not have enough resources to collect all garbage and yard-keepers must burn whatever can be burnt in front of apartment buildings.

The journalist waited a while, talked a little bit more with the yard-keeper and returned to her apartment with a serious intention to devote the next morning to calling the local officials, who are responsible for garbage collection. The officials responded that really they did not have money or cars and that they were not responsible for the yard-keepers.

Mainly this is the end of the story. Garbage is still burnt on winter streets. The smokes still enter the houses of peacefully sleeping people, who can not even imagine that today they have the right to demand quick and sufficient actions to be taken by the city officials.

So, the respected citizens, develop your plan of actions.
Today you still have a choice.

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