Iran Air Pollution Beyond Emergency As People Face Multiple Problems
Amid speculations about the possible causes of the ongoing dangerous air pollution in Tehran and several other Iranian cities, Abbas Shasavani, an Iranian Health Ministry official said on Wednesday, January 13, "Whatever the reason, the pollution in Tehran has reached a life-threatening level.
Shahsavani added that the situation could lead to "bitter events" if no quick solution is found, adding that the current situation in Tehran is beyond an emergency. It is a dangerous situation," he stressed.
During the past week there have been various speculations about the cause of the pollution, from substandard fuel being used in power plants to overconsumption in the winter. Many of these possible theories including outlandish conspiracy theories have been ruled out by the media and officials.
Nonetheless, whatever the reason for pollution, the people keep blaming the government for it while the government, as usual, tries to point fingers at the people and their lifestyle.
It seems quite natural for the government to be blamed for pollution, blackouts and many other problems as almost everything in Iran is controlled by the government.
The official environment agency in Iran says Tehran has had only 15 days of clean weather since last March. The situation has been red (extremely hazardous) for 11 days, orange (hazardous) for 90 days and amber (slightly hazardous) for 182 days during this period. A new purple (ultra-hazardous) level has also been introduced this week.
Remembering that purple was President Hassan Rouhani's election campaign color, IRGC-linked newspaper Javan on Wednesday said in a front-page headline that the pollution is the same color as Rouhani.
Nonetheless, air pollution is only one of the problems Iranians have been facing recently. High inflation, high unemployment, constant quarrels and conflicts between state officials, concerns about the government's inaction in the area of providing COVID-19 vaccines, frequent power outages that affect education, medical treatment and transportation among other thing are a few of the problems Iranians have been complaining about on social and traditional media.
Last week, after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned the import of US and British-made COVID-19 vaccines without providing access to any alternative immunization, many Iranians complained about the matter on social media some of them crossing the red line about not criticizing Supreme Leader.
On Instagram, @sabafarshchi commented under one such post: "The leader and his gang have already used the Pfizer vaccine. But it is forbidden for the rest of the people."
Twitter user @sorena_2020 commented: "The reason is that the Islamic Republic needs China’s and Russia's support. It guarantees this support by conducting economic transactions with those countries."
Meanwhile, Iranian journalist @FSarkohi tweeted on 8 January: "Khamenei sends his relatives to the United Kingdom for medical treatment, uses the most expensive medicines, sends well-connected individuals to Europe for medical treatment but bans American and European vaccines for the people. As far as he is concerned, national interest means Uranium enrichment, missiles, military intervention, suppression, despotism, poverty, and death for the people."
Complaints about the economic situation has even reached the hard core of the regime. IRGC-linked news agency Tasnim on 12 January featured a picture gallery that highlights poverty in the oil-rich Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran. According to Tasnim, although the smoke from oil wells and refineries have been polluting the air in the province for several decades now, the oil industry has ignored the development of the province and failed to improve living conditions for those who there.
Meanwhile, one of the frequently observed reports next to the shortage and high prices of foodstuff on social media is about the feeling of insecurity on dark roads and actual reports of theft and mugging amid power outages.