MPs once again fooled by a few figures...
Vol XXVIII NO. 67 Thursday 26 May 2005
By AMIRA AL HUSSAINI
Our honourable MPs continue to baffle me.
On Tuesday, parliament met to discuss air pollution in Bahrain, among other trivial matters such as our national budget, caring for the elderly and salary increments for civil servants, to name a few.
The problem is that there is so little time left and so much to discuss before they take their long-awaited summer recess, thanks to their endless squabbles on whether music concerts should be allowed or banned in Bahrain.
As a result, issues have to be rushed.
All that time wasted discussing legitimate entertainment activities, which have been approved by the state, could have really been utilised to carefully scrutinise an issue as serious as the quality of the air we are forced to breathe.
Figures issued to MPs by the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife about the quality of air make no sense whatsoever.
However, not a single MP stood up at the meeting to question what they meant.
For instance, figures for the Southern Governorate show that the level of hydrocarbons (other than methane) in the air was 686 times above internationally acceptable levels, in a year.
What the report fails to mention is how many times the level of these gases was checked in a year, to give people a clear indication of what the level of pollution really is.
Another glaring omission is the lack of any data about the levels of such emissions in the Central Governorate, which covers the heavily populated areas of Isa Town and A'ali and the heavily industrialised areas of Sitra and Ma'ameer, because "equipment to measure them has broken down".
It is a common fact that no matter how smart you are, you cannot continue to fool people all the time.
But our MPs continue to surprise us because again, they have been fooled by a few figures which they couldn't decode to begin with.
Not one of them stood up at that meeting to ask why those figures were incomplete.
They should have asked why one of Bahrain's heaviest industrialised areas has been left without checks on the level of air pollution since 1997.
They should have called for the questioning of officials who year after year have pledged cleaner production and close to zero pollution.
If that is the case, and our industry is really clean, how can it be proved in the absence of figures.
If the pollution levels in those villages were really within regulations, why are the figures being hidden from the public.
Or, are the lives of people of Sitra and Ma'ameer cheaper than others?