by Hana Namrouqa | Dec 02, 2012

AMMAN — Twelve vehicles loaded with untreated fertilisers were seized in the Jordan Valley last month and confiscated under an ongoing crackdown on the use of the substance, according to officials.

The vehicles were carrying 110 tonnes of untreated fertilisers, the use of which is banned in the Jordan Valley because it attracts domestic flies, Environment Ministry Secretary General Ahmad Qatarneh said on Sunday.

The ministry banned the entry of untreated fertilisers into the Jordan Valley in 2009 in a bid to eliminate domestic flies in the agricultural and tourist area.

Also in November, the environment ministry and the Rangers closed down 38 factories and workshops for health and environmental violations, according to a ministry report.

“Our inspection teams and the Rangers have closed down and issued warnings to 3,495 factories, farms, workshops and food outlets across the country,” Qatarneh said yesterday.

A total of 360 factories were issued tickets for operating without a licence and 682 factories and workshops were fined for excessive emissions, which pollute the air, the government official underscored.

Environment and health experts said the increasing levels of air pollution in the country are impacting public health, citing the growing number of people with allergies.

Respiratory allergies are on the rise in the Kingdom, especially among children, according to the latest study conducted on the prevalence of allergies among Jordanians in 2010. The study showed that 18 per cent of children had allergies compared to 15 per cent in 2001.

The same study showed that the prevalence of allergies among adults was 15 per cent in 2010, compared to 12 per cent in 2001, indicating that the leading allergen in Jordan is dust.

Meanwhile, the ministry said that monitoring of the country’s forests had been intensified to prevent illegal logging, which rises during winter.

Illegal logging during winter, fires during summer and insufficient rain due to climate change are the main threats to Jordan’s shrinking green cover, estimated at less than 1 per cent of the Kingdom’s terrain, according to experts.

More than 4,000 forest trees have been destroyed this year in fires, the majority of which were deliberately set in order to justify illegal logging, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Under environmental regulations, those who cut down forest trees without a licence face a three-month prison term, and a JD100 fine for each tree chopped down from state-owned land and JD50 for one from private land. In addition, their equipment is confiscated.