During a working trip to the Dnipropetrovsk region, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a meeting in Kryvyi Rih on the environmental situation in the city and the region as a whole.
"We will have many questions. We want to hear about the problems that the President and the Office of the President can help you solve. Usually after each meeting there are some results, we would like to reach the result today. I was born here and I am personally aware of the main ecological problem in Ukraine as this problem "lives" and appeared in Kryvyi Rih," the President noted.
The President noted that he had invited Minister of Ecology Ostap Semerak to the meeting today.
"He could not come as he has an election campaign. The main ecological problem is in Kryvyi Rih now, he did not come here because of the elections," the Head of State said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed hope that despite this, concrete steps would be worked out and concrete deadlines for implementing measures to improve the ecological situation in the city would be set. He is also hopeful that persons responsible for that will also be determined.
For his part, Deputy Head of the Office of the President Oleksiy Goncharuk noted that there were enterprises in Kryvyi Rih that were an important part of the country's economy, yet they created problems for the environment.
"We do not want this meeting to become a formality. We understand the history of relations between the state and large enterprises, and it always moves in a circle: the state sets the limits, negotiates something. Large companies try to comply with these limits somehow, but they do not always succeed... So, we want to convey a very simple signal that we need to finish this practice. We can’t keep on living this way," he stressed.
The President asked the representatives of one of the largest enterprises not only in the city, but also in the country ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih about concrete measures taken to improve the environmental situation in the region and reduce the damage to the local residents. It was about the program of commitments the company took on. He also raised the issue of non-admission of inspections to the production and failure to decommission the open-hearth plant in 2016-2017.
The Head of State emphasized the fact that companies often tried to delay the fulfillment of certain obligations and measures. However, local residents pay with their health for this. In particular, there is an ever-increasing number of cancer diseases.
"Why should people suffer from this? I do not understand. I understand that it is about taxes and so on, but how much does human life cost? Is it worth all those taxes? Why should the number of cancer diseases in Kryvyi Rih depend on your strategic plans?" the President emphasized.
The President also suggested introducing free cancer treatment programs for the residents of Kryvyi Rih.
The President added: "I'm talking about financial assistance to sick people, specific "financial apology".
In turn, the representative of ArcelorMittal noted that the company was taking steps to improve the environmental situation. According to him, in the next five years it is planned to invest significant funds in production, which will also be a contribution to environmental measures.
He also invited the President to visit the enterprise. The Head of State replied that he was ready to visit ArcelorMittal as he respected the enterprises giving jobs. However, this will happen if the company fulfills all the recommendations discussed at the meeting. The President also expressed hope that the implementation of environmental programs would not take place at the expense of job cuts.
In addition, Deputy Head of the Office of the President Oleksiy Goncharuk said that not only ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, but also all other enterprises should take care of ecology.
"Dear polluters, do not wait your turn when we will have to speak to you directly. Take a good look, pick up the papers where your commitments are written, look at them carefully and be sure - if you do not comply with them, you will have problems and you will not solve them with bribes," he summed up.