There is too much traffic jam. I have a headache and a sore throat.” Instead of staying for the weekend as planned, she left the country earlier to stay in Beijing, “where the air is better’.
What if she came to Ulaanbaatar in the winter and not at the beginning of September? A visitor will go back; but what about us, who stay here all year round?
As the cold winter comes, we are about to sink again into the thick polluted smog. We will shout and then our city officials will choir with the same old refrain: we are supplying 20 to 30 million dollars worth of smokeless bricketes and chimneyless stoves. But the real holders of this sum escape the winter to tropical beaches overseas. Left behind, we are poisoned, with some even dead, shout then forget as spring comes, and celebrate Naadam in summer just like in the fairy tale of “The Ant and The Grasshopper.”
Actually, we know very well the reasons of air pollution. The prime reason is that two hundred thousand chimneys of more than a half of the city population’s dwellings produce smoke from not fully burned coal, tires and bricks absorbed in used oil. The next reason is two hundred thousand vehicles with “UB” license plates, half of which are banned from use in Korea and China. The last reason is a destructing and plundering governance that pretends to plan and implement.
The main tool for removing these causes in a democratic society is a government itself that represents citizens. The duty of the government is to provide normal conditions for population’s safe life. Everyone knows that the basic condition of life is oxygen. For the city with over one million inhabitants, the normal condition of air is supported by green development that includes parks, flower beds, tree alleys, bushes but not weeds. In order to create healthy air required for human activities green developments absorb carbon dioxide from the air pool and produce oxygen through photosynthesis; and humidify the air, decrease noise, protect from wind and clean the air bacteria. Needless to say that green developments bring joy to the eye and help relieve the stress.
Yet, Mongolian government, in particular Ulaanbaatar city office, is the biggest enemy of this green development. Following are only three cases to prove it.
Construction of two large hotels on both sides of our only park, that we have cultivated for many years and called “The Children’s Park,” is in a full swing behind a tall closed fence, destroying hundreds of trees. There is a wonderful park in the center of New York City where people jog in the morning and picnic in the afternoon. They can preserve the park and we cannot here. Needless to mention London and Paris, lucky them! The difference between us is that they can unite their voices while we cannot. No one is interested in what air people breathe in or whether the children of future generations will be disabled as long as a few city officials and couple of companies get rich. For Mongolian bureaucrats, the illness or death of citizens is only statistics.
While normal countries move power plants out of the city to remote areas, in Mongolia it is on the contrary: they have decided to construct the fifth coal bedded power source in Uliyastai of Bayanzurkh District. They say it is cheaper to transport coal from Baganuur Mines to Bayanzurkh District. Air pollution is not their concern because almost each of them has secured one valley around UB, where smoke does not come and the air is fresh.
Dear guests of Ulaanbaatar City, if you have a strong reason to visit us in the winter, please make sure to bring with you a gas-mask.