Environmental disaster in Uzbekistan


The eyes of the world on the environmental disaster in Uzbekistan

The international conference "Cross-border environmental problems in Central Asia: the application of international legal mechanisms for their solution". The event was organized by Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan (to which the Constitution reserves 15 seats in the Legislative Chamber-Oliy Majlis) to analyze ecological problems, examining the various proposals on the management of water resources of transboundary rivers, as well as the environmental risks associated with the construction of hydroelectric plants on the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya rivers , the cross-border impact of industrial emissions on the environment and on the health of the population. Among 250 participants, 110 delegates from 36 foreign countries. Present were representatives of major international organizations and financial institutions, such as the UN, OSCE, World Bank, World Health Organization, World WildlifeFund, World Conservation Union. During the conference, open from Boriy Alikhanov, president of the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, the participants deepened their knowledge of the very serious damage that Uzbeks are suffering due to two great ecological tragedies: the universally known one of the Aral Sea, and that, hitherto unknown, of the Surkhandarya province.

The day before the convention on Ecological Movement of Uzbekistanorganized two visits to the areas affected by environmental pollution for the participants. I was in the group that visited her Surkhandarya province, located on the border with Tajikistan and I had an interesting experience on the scientific level, but impressive on the human one. In the Tajik territory, not far from the Uzbek border, there is the SUE TALCO (State Unitary Enterprise "Tadjik Aluminum Company")state-owned industry for the production of aluminum, the largest in Central Asia. This industry, since 1980, has been emitting large quantities of toxic chemicals into the environment (hydrogen fluoride, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen monoxide, carbon monoxide) that pollute the ecosystem, causing devastating effects on crops, animals and humans.

This, in total violation of the Environmental Cooperation Agreement signed in 1994 by the Governments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and of the rules of international law on the prohibition of transboundary pollution.

These chemicals, carried by the wind, have also contaminated that part of Uzbek territory near the border. It is an agricultural area Surkhandarya province, organized in small towns, very far from big cities and tourist destinations. Its inhabitants are experiencing a real drama, and I, after this visit, must testify to it. We first visited a land planted with vines, which showed clear signs of chemical contamination. Then a breeding of cows with skeletal deformities of the limbs and decalcification of the teeth. We then went to a doctor's office where infants, children and adults with major osteo-skeletal alterations affecting the upper and lower limbs, spine, rib cage and skull were admitted.

Many others have instead contracted diseases of the neuro-endocrine, cardio-vascular and respiratory systems. And, unfortunately, these cases are on the rise. The photographs I took and documenting the aforementioned pathologies are worth a thousand words. I never imagined seeing people so devastated in body and soul due to pollutants released into the atmosphere by other men.

I will never forget their eyes and the desperate tears of the young Uzbek mothers who showed us their children with deformed bodies. It was a very touching human experience and I admired the great dignity of those desperate women. The whole world has known about the ecological tragedy of the Aral Sea for many years. Thanks to this conference and, above all, this visit, now the world also knows that of Surkhandarya province. What I am writing oral I also declared on Uzbek television during an interview.

“I don't know what Tajikistan wants to do to solve this problem. But I know that developed countries and international organizations can and must now intervene to stop this ecological tragedy. Before it's too late".

Vittorio Giorgi
Civil lawyer of Caserta
Expert in legal and cultural cooperation with Uzbekistan
Contact: [email protected]

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