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Bangladesh - Health - February 8, 2022

City Corporations reluctant in preventing air pollution

Dhaka most polluted city in the world

Mahfuz Emran: Dhaka is now the most polluted city in the world. Although this is no visible information for the people of the capital to eradicate the pollution from the city authorities. Even before this, Dhaka was in the first or second position in the list of polluted cities. What is the role of two city corporations and the environment department in Dhaka to prevent this pollution? The two mayors say they are working to overcome the problem, but there is no visible progress. The Department of the Environment is also very indifferent.
Environmentalists say Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) have failed to take effective steps to reduce air pollution. On the contrary, they are increasing air pollution through unplanned and uncontrolled road digging and construction. Besides, brick kilns and factories, the Department of Environment has not taken effective measures to prevent black smoke from vehicles.
DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam have admitted this allegation. They said they are working to overcome this problem. But the two Corporations could not answer the question as to why Dhaka is in the first row in the list of polluted cities of the world.
The Stamford Atmospheric Pollution Study Center (CAPS) has conducted research on Dhaka’s climate index from 2016 to 2021–shows that in the last six years, the people of Dhaka have received only 36 days of fresh air. Compared to 2020, the average amount of air pollution has increased by 9.6 percent in 2021. As a result, Dhaka has become the first in the world to surpass China’s Wuhan and India’s New Delhi.
According to the research report, Ahsan Manzil, Abdullahpur, Motijheel, Dhanmondi-32, Sangsad Bhaban, Agargaon, Mirpur-10 and Gulshan-2 have the highest levels of pollution. The reason for this is that after 10 pm, a lot of freight trucks from North Bengal and South Bengal enter Dhaka city, due to which there is a lot of air pollution from these vehicles at night. Besides, dust and sand started flying in the air at night due to sweeping of the city corporation on the roads.
DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh admitted the issue of air pollution in Dhaka at the first National Non-Communicable Disease Control Conference held at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon in the capital on January 26. He said that unfortunately Dhaka is the most polluted city in the world. We are working to overcome this problem. We have already taken initiative to establish more parks, create wide sidewalks and create walking space to protect the health of the city dwellers. We are formulating an integrated master plan to improve the living standards of the city dwellers.
On November 24, 2021, the High Court issued nine-point directives to the Department of Environment (DoE), two city corporations of Dhaka and the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) to prevent air pollution. This included ensuring that vehicles carrying waste, construction materials and construction sites were covered. Besides spraying water on the streets of Dhaka to control air pollution.
It can be seen on the ground that excavation is going on in different areas of old Dhaka including Karwan Bazar, Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Banani, Mohammadpur, Mirpur of DNCC and Motijheel, Fakirapul, Jatrabari, Jurain of DSCC. Nowhere are construction materials and workspaces covered. Many areas are transporting waste in open trucks. More water has been seen splashing on the main roads of DNCC than DSCC.
According to DNCC transport sources, there are 10 container trucks to spray water on the main roads of the city. These trucks are spraying water on the main roads of the city. In addition, there are two devices to automatically remove dust from the road.
On the other hand, DSCC said, they also sprinkled water on the road. But they could not say exactly how many vehicles, how many liters of water was sprayed.
When asked, DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam told that sweeping the road is one of the many causes of air pollution. Apart from this, DNCC is doing a lot of work including unplanned digging on roads, stopping construction materials on roads, conservation of reservoirs. These works will be implemented through long term planning. I hope the amount of air pollution in Dhaka will come down in the coming years.
Under the Environmental Protection Act of 1995, there is provision for issuing public warnings about health risks in case of poor air quality. But they have not yet issued any such warning. On January 26, a mobile court of the Department of Environment launched a campaign to stop illegal brick kilns in Dhamrai, Dhaka. At that time, eight brickfields were fined Tk 57 lakh by Executive Magistrate Tamjeed Ahmed.
When asked, Deputy Director of the Department Zahirul Islam Talukder said that one of the causes of environmental pollution in the city is brick kilns and industrial smoke. The Department of Environment is working on those two issues with importance. Operations are being carried out in different areas almost every day. He said that their campaign will continue.
According to Health Department sources, more than 10,000 people die every year in Dhaka alone due to air pollution. Apart from this, 1 lakh 53 thousand people died due to airborne diseases.
Professor Ahmed Kamruzzaman Majumder, director of the Stamford Center for Atmospheric Pollution Study (CAPS), said air quality in Dhaka has been going from unhealthy to very unhealthy most of the time. This month (January) the people of Dhaka could not get good air even for a day.
Citing a study of 10 places in Dhaka city, Professor Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder said that in 2021, Tejgaon area was the most polluted area in Dhaka city. Here the particles per cubic meter of air were 60 micrograms. Shahbag is in the next position. The city corporation and the environment department need to do more to stop this pollution.

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