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    Air polluters not being punished says Polish smog watchdog

    People burning rubbish and using old, inefficient stoves are getting away with polluting the air because of the lax enforcement of environmental laws, an NGO has claimed.

    Polish towns have some of the worst air in Europe with domestic stoves being a key contributor to the pollution.


    According to Polish Smog Alert (PAS), a social movement that brings together activists fighting for the improvement of air quality in Poland, fines are rarely imposed on polluters.


    A recent PAS study especially noted the vital role played by the municipal guard, a local law-enforcement agency, in enforcing anti-smog regulations. However, the guard existed in only one-fifth of the 167 municipalities which were surveyed.


    In those municipalities without a municipal guard, up to 77 percent of the violators of anti-smog regulations were not given fines. Last year, on average, only one household in those municipalities was fined.


    But in municipalities where the municipal guard existed, a fine was issued in 70 percent of the cases.


    The presence of a municipal guard also had a significant influence on the number of inspections which were carried out.


    In those communities without municipal guards, one investigator was responsible for the inspection of 1,000 homes, while in those with guards this number was at the level of 300 homes per investigator.


    Another factor contributing to an increase in the production of smog was that in many municipalities, inspections were carried out only during office hours. This meant that they were not done in the evening when many households used their stoves.


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