There are 22 cities and 48 urban settlements in the Republic of Tajikistan. High concentration of population, industries and transport, urban areas produce a negative impact on the environment, on the one hand, but they are vulnerable to negative influence of anthropogenic activities, on the other hand. Actually, over 3/4 of emissions of harmful substances into the atmospheric air and water pollution, and 90% of solid communal wastes formation takes place in urban territories.
The main problems of the urban environment are: harmful emissions by industrial enterprises and vehicles, water pollution and land contamination with wastes and sewages, green plantings reduction, and noise.
The main sources of air pollution in cities of Tajikistan are building enterprises, chemical, metallurgical, metal-processing, and cotton-processing industries, and motor vehicles.
Most industrial enterprises are located in the cities of Dushanbe, Khujand, Isfara, Kurgan-Tube, Tursunzade and Yavan. Many industries are operating in Dushanbe city: Heat Power Plant, Refrigerator Plant, Cement Plant, Hydraulic Factory, Machine-building Factory, Textile Plant, Fat Factory, Meat Processing Factory, Reinforced Concrete Constructions Factory, Asphalt Plant, Brick Plant, and others.
However, the amount of harmful emissions has been reduced lately due to the production decline. Thus, the emission of harmful substances in Dushanbe reduced from 30.7 thousand tonnes in 1988 to 1.2 thousand tonnes in 2000, i.e. about 20 times.
The motor vehicles exhaust many toxic substances and cause a considerable negative impact on the environment. This is due to the poor quality of fuel used and outdated transport. The average specific consumption of fuel in urban areas is 10-12 liters per 100 km. Buses and taxis comprise 70% of passenger transportation and trolleybuses 30%.
Keeping air clean is an important environmental task. However, some large cities of the republic until recently have been marked by a considerable worsening of air quality because of intensive anthropogenic emissions. The cities of Dushanbe, Kurgan-Tube, Kulyab, and Tursunzade are most vulnerable to air pollution.
Air quality monitoring is carried out by the National hydrometeorological service at permanent locations. Previous observational data show that the main harmful substances are: sulfur dioxide, carbon oxide, benzapiren, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, and suspended particles. It should be noted that the relief and meteorological factors, e.g. near surface inversions, promote preserving high concentrations of harmful substances in the air. In the past years, the excessive concentrations of harmful substances in the cities are not observed in general.
Nearly 97% of the urban population uses tap water. However, 60-80% of plumbing is out-of-date and requires reconstruction. Over 90% of water pipes use underground water; however, in some southern and northern regions, the underground waters are still subject to contamination. The lack of drinking water, caused by unsatisfactory operation of pump stations and insufficient funding of municipal water supply, has been observed in residential districts of Dushanbe, Khujand, Isfara, and Kulyab. A deficit of capacities of wastewater purifying systems has long been observed in cities and settlements, which has resulted in the excessive volumes of contaminated water and faecal pollution.
The water quality is considered “very clean” and “clean”, though mineralization of some underground water sources is over 1 g/l. Moreover, excessive water turbidity can be observed, when water is taken from open sources, e.g. in Dushanbe. In 1997-1998, the bacteriological contamination of tap water caused the epidemic of typhoid. The main sources of water contamination in cities are discharges of unpurified industrial waters within, storage of wastes near water-protecting zones, etc.
Urban population is subject to various diseases, including typhoid, hepatitis, intestinal disorders, and respiratory diseases. According to the research, the rate of disease in a contaminated zone is 1.5-3 times as high as in a conventionally unpolluted zone.
The problem of formation, storage, and utilization of solid municipal wastes is also urgent. Some of industrial wastes, containing toxic substances of I and II classes, are stored within the production areas, while others are removed to municipal dumps. The municipal dumps have no special equipment to store industrial wastes, so heavy rains, winds, and animals remove waste components far away from the dumps.
The main sources of noise are: motor vehicles, planes, and construction enterprises. The problem of noise effects is particularly urgent in Dushanbe, Khujand, and Kurgan-Tube. Nearly 60-80% of the population in these cities is suffering from noise effects. Areas with over 80 dB noise level are considered non-comfortable, 80-40 dB - relatively comfortable, less then 40 dB - comfortable.
Tree plantings play essential role in reducing the anthropogenic impact on the environment. Botanical gardens and public parks are organized in urban areas. Dominating tree plantations include acacia, plane tree, chestnut, poplar, and fruit trees.
Communal, sanitary-epidemiological services and committees on nature protection maintain the satisfactory condition of urban environment. According to the Law on nature protection, municipal authorities are responsible for urban natural resource management. They have the right to stop the activity of organizations violating the environmental legislation.
State ecological programme promotes the measures on expanding wastewater purifying systems in cities and improving the state of air and water supply. National Action Plan on environmental hygiene includes a series of measures on improving urban environment and sanitation. Public actions on cleaning urban areas from litter are regularly organized. Non-governmental organizations help in improving urban environmental conditions.
Usage of public electrified transportation promotes a reduction of air contamination. Regular trolleybus service is provided in Dushanbe and Khujand. The total length of trolleybus lines is 180 km. To reduce the dust formation, the main roads are watered every morning and evening. Reconstruction of water supply systems in Dushanbe, restoration of wastewater purifying systems in Kulyab, and construction of additional capacities of purifying systems in Khujand are implemented with donor’s support.
In the conditions of the hot and arid climate of Tajikistan, sustainable ecological situation in urban areas is very important. To do this, standards of housing distribution, planting areas, and permissible noise effects should be developed. Realizing an environmental certification, drawing urban environmental maps, developing water protection measures, and eliminating noise effect can play a great role in this field. A system of informing the population about ecological situation should be established in the cities and nature protection legislation needs to be improved.
Last update 03/03/2003