Al-Ahram Weekly Online   22 - 28 October 2009
Issue No. 969
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Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Staying with us


For once, as it turns out, the burning of rice chaff by Nile Delta farmers is not responsible for the seasonal air pollution known as the black-cloud phenomenon, writes Mahmoud Bakr. Or so the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs assures us. Air pollution this week is the result of a dust storm that started in Chad and blew over North Africa, according to Ahmed Abul-Soud, head of the Air Quality Department at the ministry, taking a northeasterly direction and covering a large expanse of southern and northern Egypt on Saturday evening and the next day. For their part farmers have not however stopped burning their chaff, despite more severe fines and other efforts on the part of the ministry. Maged George, the minister of state for environmental affairs, warned of air pollution in the next few weeks due precisely to the burning of rice chaff, elaborating on the ministry's plan to encourage recycling on a large scale -- already, he said, the ministry has received investors' offers to undertake recycling projects -- and pointing out that the phenomenon, which began in 1999, will likely persist for a few more years.

photo: Mohamed Mustafa

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