Mongolia bans migration to capital to reduce smog

(Xinhua)    22:33, January 10, 2017
ULAN BATORJan. 10 -- Mongolia's National Security Council (NSCon Tuesdayapproved Ulan Bator Municipality's move to prohibit migration to the capital as a measureto reduce air pollution.
Batbold Sunduimayor of Ulan Bator (UB), said: "My decisions are for the best interest ofUB residentsBecause of smogour right to live in a safe and healthy environment hasbeen violated."
"All migration to Ulan Bator from the countryside except those people that require long-term medical treatment and those who purchased apartments shall be prohibited untilJan. 1, 2018," Batbold said.
The mayor earlier presented the prohibition to the NSCmembers of which includeMongolia's presidentspeaker of the parliament and prime minister.
The council approved itwhile saying the prohibition can be extended if needed.
Under the banthe sale of stovesexcept those using biofuel and gaswill be bannednewsettlement areas for rural migrants will be established far from the capital cityand cityexpansion will be restricted.
The Municipal Office pledged to gradually replace stoves that burn raw coal.
About 300,000 households in Ulan Bator's slum districts burn raw coalplastics andrubber tires for heating and cooking in their homesThe smoke generated by thesehouseholds is the primary cause of the air pollution in Ulan Batorresearchers said.
"We are forced to make these decisions as the current air pollution violates our right to livesafely and healthily," Batbold said.
"We are hoping to reduce the current air pollution by 20 percentThose poor householdsthat burn raw coal will be given improvedefficient fuel to burn in their stovesIf peoplestop burning coalair pollution will be reduced," said the mayor.
New migrants will be banned from settling in the cityand the existing rural migrants inthe capital city will be given opportunities to return to the countrysideaccording to theMunicipal decision.
Mongolia has six months of winterand more than 300,000 householdsor 800,000 residentsof Ulan Bator's slum districts have to rely on raw coal and other inflammablematerials such as plastics and old rubber tires to keep warm and cook during this period.
As a resultUlan Bator is now one of the most polluted cities in the world with a PM2.5 density on average seven times higher than the World Health Organization (WHOstandards.
The Mongolian government and international donors and development organizationssuch as the World Bank and Asian Development Bankhave spent millions of U.Sdollarson programs and projects to reduce the city's air pollution since 2000.
Howeveranalysts said that these efforts didn't substantially reduce the air pollutionwhich remained about the same as it was in early 2000.

Source:Xinhua news agency
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