Brakes put on car use

Published: Thursday 28 February 2002

with smog levels soaring, authorities in Italy's northern Lombardy region recently urged drivers to do away with their cars for three days. This was done to reduce the dense smoky fog made worse by dry, cold weather.

Earlier, Lombardy ordered a ban on private vehicle use for 12 hours on Sundays. Regional president Roberto Formigoni urged drivers to use other modes of transport on Saturdays and Mondays as well.

The pollution problem in Northern Italy has been aggravated this winter by scanty rainfall. Due to near absence of rain , the washing of microscopic particles from the air was hampered. Particle levels in Milan soared up to five times the permissible limit.

The dry weather and a cold snap have also damaged crops, reduced water levels in Northern Italy's picturesque lakes, and left ski resorts in the Italian Alps short of snow.

Estimates by farmers' association Coldiretti indicate that agriculture damage worth US $21,559,515 has been caused. It has asked the government to declare a state of emergency for the worst-hit regions so that they could get aid without any difficulty.

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