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Today, compared to past years, society is not indifferent to how the intensive natural resources development affects the citizens' health. What measures are taken to prevent pollution, what is the ecological situation in the regions? These and other questions are answered by the Vice Chairman of the Environmental Regulation and Supervision Committee of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan Sabit Nurlybay.


- As you know, the Decree of President Nursultan Nazarbayev approved the Concept of transition of the republic to the "green" economy, which is one of the most important tools for ensuring sustainable development of the country, -said Sabit Nurlybay. – The serious tasks in this direction are set in the “Kazakhstan-2050” Strategy.

 

Now, the International exhibition «Expo-2017" on the theme “Future Energy " is held in Astana, there are presented the world's best technologies in the sphere of energy supplying, new developments in the area of alternate sources of energy.

 

The putting into operation of the Kashagan project North Caspian Operating Company, the construction of the third generation plant within the “Tengizchevroil” LLP future growth project, the start of the advanced oil processing center at the Atyrau refinery and integrate gas chemical facility(“Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries Inc.” LLP), where the most modern technologies and the advanced equipment are used, meet the requirements of the concept of transition to the "green" economy.

 

In order to improve the environmental situation in the regions, the Ministry of Energy initiated the development of environmental quality objectives for each oblast, the use of which will establish the permissible volume of emissions of pollutant. And this will oblige industrial enterprises to implement environmental measures to reduce nature pollution.


Scientific developments in this direction are already being conducted in all oblasts, except Akmola, Kyzylorda and South Kazakhstan, where the akimats not allocated the financial resources for these purposes. I think that local authorities, first of all, have to know the ecological situation in their region. Definitely, the obtained results shall be used for improving the ecological situation of the area.


- Sabit Nurlybaevich, what is the degree of environmental pollution in the regions and what measures are being taken to improve the environmental situation?


- Shall we say, that today there is a positive dynamics. For example, according to the results of the first half of 2017, the lowering of emission limits in North Kazakhstan by 25%, Kyzylorda by 23%, West Kazakhstan and Zhambyl oblasts by 17%, Kostanai by 7%, Mangistau oblast by 5% is noted.  In the capital it was 19% and in Almaty was 8%.

 

I also note that, according to the indicators of our department’s strategic plan, the permitted volume of emissions for all sources will be annual lower by 100 thousand tons.


Our committee and its territorial departments aimed to the achievement of this rate. We work in close cooperation with the oblasts akimats, with which we have signed the memorandums.

- In foreign practice the position of non-governmental organizations and independent experts influence the improvement of the environmental situation. In Kazakhstan their voices are not audible at all. How do you think to involve the public in solving environmental problems?


- At the recent meeting of our committee board, the ecology departments of the regions were instructed to conduct the ecological assessment of all projects of large-scale natural resource users with the participation of expert boards, which will include representatives of private association, non-governmental organizations, scientific institutions, independent experts and the media. Also, the public hearings will be an obligatory step, where the opinion of the citizens and the public will be taken into account when discussing these projects.


The Committee and its territorial departments take the necessary measures to get going the feedback with the citizens to involve public in environmental control. Any citizen from the regions can address with information on current environmental situations issues through committee website, by letter or through trust line.

 

- Lately, there are many complaints about the administrative barrier in environmental law, in particular,

the complexity and period of obtaining permits and the amount of administrative fines. How is this problem solved?


- The Environmental Regulation and Supervision Committee is planned, for the convenience of natural resource user, to reduce the steps of public services twice and the duration of their performance fourfold. In particular, we unite the public services for issuing permits for emissions with project environmental impact assessment, which will positively affect on rankings indicators in "Doing Business», it is principle aimed at  relieving business operations.


Indeed, during the receiving state services, natural resource users faced problems, in particular, with long periods of permits obtaining. But after the approving of legislative changes, natural resource user will have an opportunity to resolve complaints and get positive findings within 45 working days. Earlier, I note, it took up to 180 working days. For this purpose, we plan to fully automate licensing procedures with introduction of a dialog box, which will eliminate "direct contact" and ensure transparency of interaction between the natural resource user and public employee, which will eliminate corruption risks.


As for administrative fines, we propose the introduction of preventive control without administrative influence. First of all, the inspections will be conducted on the warning system. It is done in order to stimulate environmental protection measures.


In case, the natural resource user does not intend to eliminate the violations, the regional ecology departments will hold them administratively liable.

 

Our task is to create, at the legislative level, such conditions, under which, it will be beneficial for the natural resource user to invest in the environment, to reduce emissions of pollutant, and to invest in environmental protection measures. It is much more effective to give the enterprise the opportunity and incentives not to violate environmental law, as it is done in the leading OECD countries, rather than on penalty of imposition of administrative sanctions to labor for law observance.


- What can you say about the dynamics of inspections of natural resource users in the last few years?


- The concept of preventive measures involves partner relations with the natural resource users, and in this regard we believe that such control will not increase the number of inspections. In general, recently there has been a lowering in their quantity.


So, if in 2015 3 274 inspections were carried out, in the past year – 3 177, and in the first half of this year only 900. In the second half of the year, only 253 selective tests are expected. Therewith, violators who pollute the environment will be inspected.


Also, on the base of the information provided by "Kazgidromet" RSE or other data pointing on the threat to the environment and public health, unplanned inspections will be conducted. The environmental violations are terrible because they result in irreversible consequences for the environment and human health. To prevent this is our main task!


- What are the directions of development of your department for sustainable development and environmental safety?


-Priority orientations of our development are: the intensification of work to reduce the environmental burden on the environment, improving the effectiveness of environmental protection measures by natural resource users. It is necessary to focus on the environmental problems of the regions, to reveal and prevent violations in the sphere of the environmental protection, as well as constantly improve the environmental law. In general, the department's activities will be aimed at the improving of the environment condition and effective solution of the environmental problems, as well as eliminating corruption risks by ensuring transparency of environmental control functions and simplifying the processes of providing public services.


The issues of ensuring environmental safety are the most important in any country in the world, as the welfare of the state and society depends on this.

 

If we talk about the Republic of Kazakhstan, then the environmental safety is structurally included in the notion of national security, and therefore there must be a special attitude to environmental issues.
The existing economic mechanism for environmental protection requires serious analysis and scientific rethinking. We have to study the global experience and implement all the best that will preserve the biodiversity of our unique nature for future generations.

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