January 13th, 2020

A number of towns and local self-government units were affected by the excessive air pollution for an extended period of time and neither the Ministry of Environmental Protection nor other competent authorities took any particular measures in that time period. Having this in mind and the need to address this problem more actively, the Protector of Citizens initiated an own-initiative procedure of controlling the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić today.

Ombudsman Pašalić recalls that, back in 2018, the air in the Republic of Serbia was officially rated category III (excessively polluted air) in Belgrade, Kraljevo, Valjevo, Kragujevac, Subotica, Sremska Mitrovica, Pančevo, Užice, Smederevo and Kosjerić. In all of these places, suspended particles PM 10 and/or PM 2.5 were the cause of excessive air pollution. The available data suggest that the contribution of road traffic to both pollutants was 6% each, while the majority of the emission was generated by District Heating Plants less than 50MW and from the individual heating furnaces.

The trend from 2018 has continued into 2019. Namely, the excessive air pollution in Belgrade, as well as in many other cities in Serbia where high concentrations of the mentioned particles were recorded over the last few months have justifiably concerned the citizens and the public and unambiguously pointed to the necessity of taking urgent measures in order to establish the recommended safe limits for the air quality.

Considering the fact that citizens received different information regarding the evaluation of the obtained results as well as the causes of pollution and the measures that the Ministry of Environmental Protection took or planned to take, Mr. Pašalić requested that this authority should provide the information on the following:
What were the reasons why, despite the negative air quality evaluation in 2018, the Ministry of Environmental Protection did not take or recommend measures timely in order to reduce air pollution and improve energy efficacy; 

Considering the fact that the expert public points to several different causes of air pollution, such as the burning of poor quality coal in thermal power plants, more intensive traffic, individual heating furnaces and current weather conditions, answer should be provided on the question if the Ministry of Environmental Protection analyzed the basic, dominant causes of high pollution individually by cities, and local self-government units;
whether the Ministry of Environmental Protection has, in relation to the identified major air pollutants, anticipated and proposed taking urgent short-term and long-term measures to combat them and what the measures were, and if not, why not;
whether the public is regularly and fully informed about the current situation, or whether citizens are provided with sufficient data on the type and scope of information on measured values, their importance, as well as the impact that measured values of pollutants might have on their health;

The deadline for the Ministry of Environmental Protection to respond is 15 days. After reviewing and evaluating the Ministry’s response, the Protector of Citizens will inform the public on further actions.