Smog in Bishkek Decreases by 10-15%

Bishkek’s thermal power plant is among the factors contributing to air pollution; Photo: TCA

Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Technical Supervision has announced that smog in Bishkek has decreased by at least 10-15% resulting from the government’s efforts to improve the air quality in the capital city. Welcome news at a time when pollution had reached a critical level. In recent years, IQAIR has frequently ranked Bishkek among the worst cities in the world for the highest levels of air pollution.

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) brief, “Tackling Air Pollution in Bishkek: A Road Map to Cleaner Air,” released in November 2023, stated that air pollution in Bishkek exceeded the WHO air quality guidelines by up to 30 times in winter.

The brief referenced several studies on the main sources of air pollution. A UNICEF report showed PM2.5 concentrations are highest where households rely on coal for heating, in areas around the city’s coal-fired thermal power plant and where solid waste is burned. UNDP-UNEP similarly cited coal as the primary source of pollution, followed by road transport.

Transport was estimated by ADB to contribute around a third of annual emissions, particularly diesel trucks and minibuses.
In conclusion, the ADB report recommended that to arrest air pollution, top priority be given to phasing out coal and investing in clean public transport.

According to government reports, in 2023, nine residential neighborhoods comprising over 14 thousand households were supplied with natural gas. Today, 31 of the 47 residential suburbs, previously reliant on coal for heating, are connected to gas.

The ministry also stated that the Bishkek landfill, which had been burning for decades adding to the city’s air pollution woes, was completely extinguished last year. Its territory is currently being reclaimed, with 850 tree saplings planted so far on an area of 2.3 hectares. In addition, 850 new environmentally friendly buses running on liquefied gas have been purchased for Bishkek. Mild weather and heavy rainfall were contributory factors but the decrease in smog this winter bodes well for the city’s environment.


Times of Central Asia