By Rasana Gasimova
Environmental protection is a civic duty of every person, said Mukhtar Babayev, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources on October 31.
Environmental protection in Azerbaijan is one of the state policy priorities and President Ilham Aliyev keeps this issue in the spotlight, he added.
According to Babayev, measures are being taken to prevent air pollution. Thus, in order to neutralize the emissions, treatment facilities are installed in about 500 large public catering enterprises in major cities of the country.
Babayev stressed that from more than 1 million 402,000 vehicles, 35 percent have been in operation for about 10 years, 23 percent for more than 20 years, and 19.1 percent for more than 30 years. Car imports increased 5 times in 2018, compared to 2016, he added.
Babayev said believes that to reduce the harmful effects of the transport sector on the atmosphere, it would be effective to renew the country's vehicle fleet, apply various tax and customs benefits and subsidies that encourage the use of environmentally friendly vehicles.
He noted that the Ministry of Economy is developing a vehicle recycling program that aims at improving the country’s environmental situation, stimulating local automobile production, as well as decommissioning vehicles unsuitable in terms of ecology and technical safety.
As to water resources, Babayev highlighted that Azerbaijan will implement a program to save water.
The minister noted that Azerbaijan's water reserves make up 15 percent of the South Caucasus reserves.
Babayev emphasized that over the past decades, the country's water reserves have decreased, and according to international climate models, their reduction is projected to continue in the future.
"The main water losses occur in irrigation canals and in irrigation systems of farms. Therefore, we propose to carry out accurate water metering, as well as improve the entire system used for waste water treatment," Babayev said.
"It is necessary to give a correct assessment to the risks, and the economical use of water should be considered more carefully both by the state and the public," he added.
Babayev also spoke about the climate change that is observed in the country.
These processes cannot be prevented, but international experience shows that it is possible to mitigate their consequences relatively earlier by warning. The country has begun work on improving early warning systems to ensure resilience to dangerous hydrometeorological events. The work on the application and modernization of radar with modern surveillance systems to provide accuracy of hydrometeorological forecasts and warnings, radio sounders, marine automatic hydrometeorological stations to monitor changes in the air at different altitudes,” he said.
Protection and conservation of forests is one of the country’s priorities. The scale of negative impacts on forests has been significantly reduced by providing gas to 95 percent of the country.
At the initiative of Azerbaijan’s First Vice-President, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva, 650,000 trees are planned to be planted in one day in all regions of the country in the autumn planting season of 2019, on the occasion of the 650th anniversary of Imadeddin Nasimi.
As to the development of ecotourism, Babayev noted that the Kyzylagaj National Park and the first biosphere reserve in the country were created by the President's Decree in order to increase the number of specially protected territories. As many as 82,680 people visited National Parks over the past nine months.
He added that it is gratifying that in 2019 the number of tourists visiting national parks increased three times.
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