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EghtesadOnline: Gasoline rationing that started on Nov. 15 will not have any significant effect on curbing air pollution if the temperature is below 15° C, head of the Department of Environment said.

“When the mercury falls below 15° C, diesel-powered vehicles like buses and trucks are among the main culprits contributing to the air pollution,” Isa Kalantari was quoted as saying by ISNA.

He added that the controversial decision to ration gasoline for private cars, cabs, vans…has nothing to do with the limping campaign against air pollution. Moreover, the surplus revenue from selling fuel at much higher rates is not supposed to be spent on anti-pollution programs. 

President Hassan Rouhani and his aides have said that the “savings” from higher fuel prices is being given to the people in the form of new subsidies, Financial Tribune reported.

On Nov. 14 midnight the government decided to raise gasoline prices and sell it at two rates from. As per a directive issued by the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, private car owners can only buy 60 liters of subsidized gasoline every month at 15,000 rials (13 cents) a liter. Additional purchases cost double. The move is expected to add $2.5 billion to the treasury per year.

Not totally rejecting the effect of the (rationing) plan on the environment in winter (maximum 3%), the DoE chief noted, “The effect will be much more tangible (about 70%) in summer when the mercury rises over 20° C.”



Steep Rise in Diesel Use 

According to Hamid Qassemi, director of the CNG office of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company, diesel consumption since the beginning of the current fiscal year in March has jumped to astonishing levels compared to last year.

"The figure was about 77 million liters a day in 2018. Now it is above 85 ml/d, up 11%." 

Qassemi opined that the high consumption stems primarily from ageing heavy vehicles, which has not only resulted in excessive fuel consumption but also contributes terribly to the already worsening air pollution. 

There are 130,000 trucks in Iran with manufacturing dates of most going back 25 to 30 years. 

Replacing 50% of the depleted trucks will reduce diesel consumption by at least 1 billion liters per year, he claimed. 

According to the Roads Ministry Iran needs 15,000 new trucks a year to renovate its aging fleet of heavy vehicles. 

More than 4,000 goods transport companies are active across the country moving 380 million tons of cargo every year. 

Officials have strangely been oblivious to the fact that expanding railroads can play a key role in curbing energy consumption and air pollution.

The length of railway lines in Iran at 13,000 km (2,000 km less than Kazakhstan), is 5 times shorter than India at 70,000 km, which is the fourth longest in the world. Not only does Iran rely heavily on road transport to move cargo and people, it must also spend billions on gasoline and diesel subsidies plus on health problems arising from the toxic air and road mishaps.

Qassemi went on to say that (the government) is prepared to replace 18,000 urban diesel-powered buses. The move is aimed at reducing air pollution and fuel consumption in the major urban areas, which experts blame on inadequate, old and inefficient vehicles.



Smog-Covered Capital  

The capital’s skyline has been dull and hazy for several days as a blanket of smog envelopes the city while urban officials’ respond by making hollow announcements and shutting schools and kindergartens. 

Air Quality Index in Tehran on Wednesday exceeded 160, marking the day as unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Over the past few decades and as Tehran expanded in four directions, almost all the mayors failed to effectively address the air pollution while the number of cars increased in the overcrowded metropolis transforming it into a huge parking lot.

Due to lack of infrastructure out of the capital city (for example, transportation facilities for workers to commute) during the last decade officials have succeeded to relocate just 20% of the most polluting industries, especially asphalt factories whose machinery has long outlived their usefulness. 

Millions of people live and work in Tehran and deserve decent transportation. True developments have taken place to improve the situation, build highways, expand the subway and designate the central parts of the city as special traffic zones for which motorists must pay to enter. But all this has obviously inadequate.


Iran air pollution DOE gasoline Gasoline Rationing Scheme