Staff Correspondent : According to Air Quality Index (IQIR), an air quality monitoring organization, Dhaka’s air is unhealthy most of the year. During the winter season that becomes ‘very unhealthy’. The sky of Dhaka is covered with gray dust. Dhaka also tops the world list of air pollution. It is now unquestionable when the last time the people of Dhaka got pure, clean air. Analysts blamed the administration’s lack of coordination to prevent Dhaka’s pollution.
Environmental experts say the country’s brick kilns are directly affecting air pollution. Every brick kiln is polluting like every other industry. This destruction of the environment is due to the use of outdated vehicles with fossil fuels and unplanned construction.
According to a study by the Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS), a pollution research institute, construction, brick kilns and industries, vehicular smoke, inter-country pollution (polluted air from Nepal and India), kitchen smoke and urban waste are major sources of air pollution. Besides, air pollution is increasing in those areas of Dhaka where waste is burnt. Methane gas is produced in landfills. The High Court has also expressed concern about this air pollution. The High Court mentioned that the country’s rivers, roads, air are all polluted and Dhaka is in a very bad condition. On January 18, a bench comprising Justice KM Kamrul Quader and Justice Khizir Hayat said, “Industrialization is definitely necessary for the economic development of the country, but it must be done while protecting the environment.” We can punish. But what happens with the sentence? We feel embarrassed that how many times we will give instructions about these things.
CAPS Chairman and Professor of Environmental Science Department of Stamford University Ahmed Kamruzzaman told, ‘Everyone knows the cause and source of air pollution. But there is no coordination to remedy this. 10 government ministries and 30-35 organizations in the city are indirectly linked to air pollution. In this case, the Department of Environment or the City Corporation will not be able to solve it sustainably. For this, we have to work in coordination with other ministries through the application of the highest law.
On the surface, it can be seen that some areas of Dhaka are not obeying the law in any building under construction. Construction materials are being left everywhere. No canopy or cover was seen anywhere. The same is the case with road digging. There is no need to obey the instructions. Dust from these places is mixing in the air of Dhaka.
The elevated expressway has been under construction for six months in the MalibaghRailgate area of the capital. Road digging work is seen there without any fencing. Apart from this, instructions for renovation of Mohammadpur, Babubazar Road, Postgola, Jurain roads were not followed.
The Air Pollution Rules-2022 of the Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change states, ‘Waste or any part of it shall not be stored or burnt in the open. Construction materials (soil, sand, cement, bricks, garbage etc.) should be covered with canopy at the site under construction. Trucks, vans or lorries used during the transportation of these goods must be transported completely covered.
But these instructions are not obeyed by the concerned institutions. Environmentalists have said that the monitoring of the Department of Environment is not enough to comply with the directives.
According to the updated information of Monitoring and Enforcement on the website of the Department of Environment, the Enforcement Department of the Department of Environment has fined 10 companies for air pollution caused by construction materials in the capital only until January 24 this year. Apart from this, six illegal brick kilns around Dhaka were raided and an organization was fined for selling banned polythene. However, the leaders of environmental organizations do not consider these campaigns to be appropriate compared to pollution.
Water Keepers Bangladesh coordinator Sharif Jamil told, “Dhaka’s air pollution is now no less than an epidemic.” This is a major disaster, the government not realizing its importance is the biggest reason for not reducing pollution. I think those who are in charge of the government are neglecting the people. But the Department of Environment has a law, it is not being obeyed. They don’t have the capacity to accept it either. They are not able to find the sources of the pollution in winter and prevent it. In this case, along with the directorate, city corporation, city governance and citizen’s authority, BRTA, various industries should prevent pollution.
Munir Hossain Chowdhury, director of Environmental Research and Development Alternatives told, “I think the high population of Dhaka city has a lot of impact on air pollution. Where will the carbon dioxide we emit go? That is, according to the number of people, there are no trees.
“There are many diggings, roads are being cut, so a lot of dust is mixing with the air from these places for months. In developed countries, when a road is cut, it is not known the next day which part of the road has been cut. I think everyone involved in this road cutting, construction, project has responsibility.
Pointing out that there is no rule of law to control air pollution, he said, “There is actually no rule of law in these cases.” The Department of Environment is unable to do this. Rules must be properly enforced. For two-three years only by cutting the road with permission from the city corporation. Until then, the dust continues to fly.
He said, ‘Coordination is not being done in our country. Department of Environment and related ministries should work together. The Directorate must compel them to comply with the law. This is the most important.
Human rights and environmental activist Father Joseph Gomez told, “In winter, air cannot rise due to fog.” It remains below. As a result, winter is the most harmful effect. In this case, there is no hope for the government’s action.
Syed Ahmad Kabir, deputy director of the monitoring enforcement branch of the Department of Environment, told, “Thousands of houses are being built in Dhaka city. Many mega projects are going on. It is not possible for our people to go everywhere. It is not possible to catch every unfit car standing on the road. We have some limitations. Modern equipment is lacking. We are conducting mobile court daily as per rules. Air pollution has many factors. Everyone involved should be aware of this. The city corporation has to do its proper work.
The city corporation claims that pollution has reduced. However, according to the Air Quality Index data for the month of January, the people of Dhaka did not get healthy air for even one day in January. The index never fell below 194. Below 50 is considered good air.
Dhaka North City Corporation Chief Executive Officer Mir Khairul Islam told, “Our dust sweeper is working all the time. And the dust is much less than before. We are monitoring all the time. For those who take permission from us to dig roads or construct buildings, we fix the time, tell them to obey the instructions. If we don’t obey the instructions, we also punish them.
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