For more than seven years, the owners of several homes located on Bokeikhanov Street (formerly Aerodrome Street) have defended their right to breathe fresh air. At first glance, this demand might seem extreme; Almaty’s residents are already well accustomed to the poisonous smog, with a small admixture of oxygen, that our government officials stubbornly call air. And no matter! Little by little people fall ill, and where don’t they fall ill? Little by little they die, and where don’t they die? The most important thing is that everyone remains silent.
However, take a look at these photographs, and you will see that the “lucky souls” living next to the Kazakhstani Construction Materials Combine’s Plant No. 3 (KSMK-3) are deprived of even such air as this.
How can people’s homes end up within the sanitary protective zone of a construction-materials plant? How can such a plant appear next to people’s homes? No one can answer these questions: neither the officials at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, nor the city authorities, nor the businessmen, nor the judges.
The residents have turned to the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee for assistance. Perhaps with its aid they will manage to dissipate the cement dust that falls like fatal ash over their homes and gardens. Perhaps the international community will help untangle the net of lies and humiliations within which people have been trapped. Perhaps, finally, the right to breathe clean air will be defended as well by our government, adorning itself in democratic clothing?
How can people’s homes end up within the sanitary protective zone of a construction-materials plant? This question, thus far, remains unanswered.
Translated by Glenn Kempf.