Dhaka was in the first position on average and the pollution index rose to 326 on Thursday

The level of air pollution is increasing in Dhaka day by day. According to a survey conducted by an international air quality watchdog, Dhaka is rising to the top when it comes to pollution, almost every day in January 2021. It was at the top of the list even last Thursday. The level of pollution is so high that it is being labelled as ‘catastrophic.’

According to the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Air Visual, a US-based global aerospace technology company, Dhaka was in the first position on average and the pollution index rose to 326 on Thursday, January 21, from 9am to 1pm. Even the day before (Wednesday, January 20), Dhaka was at the top at 9am. The situation was the same on Tuesday, January 19, too. Even this week, Dhaka was number one in pollution at some point in the day.

According to air experts, AQI 326 already means catastrophic. The situation could escalate if steps are not taken to reduce pollution immediately.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has identified the reasons for the air pollution in Dhaka.

The reasons include: brickyards; road construction, reconstruction and repair; construction and road digging of service companies; large development projects (expressways, metro rails etc.); construction of various facilities including multi-storied buildings at government and private levels; commercial sand extraction and collection on roadsides or highways, transportation of sand, soil, cement, and other construction materials in trucks or lorries in open condition; piles of household and municipal waste on the streets and incineration of waste; dumping drain-dirt on the streets; sweeping the road with brooms; exposed areas along various roads and streets; dust from broken part of the footpath and the roads; harmful smokes of unfit transports; clay attached to the wheels of various vehicles; incineration; dumping garbage and dust of various markets, shopping malls and commercial buildings on the streets; dust of the polluted areas of the city; hospital wastes dumped on the road; use of excessive sulfur-containing diesel; and lastly and importantly lack of public awareness.

Additional Secretary(Environment) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Moniruzzaman said: “The operation to close brickfields is going on. We have also discussed many of the other reasons with the city corporation and the BRTA, such as on the issue of keeping dirt on the side of the road, sweeping in the morning, removing and cleaning all the garbage including the dirt of the building under construction, and hospital waste. They told us they are monitoring these regularly.

“The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and the Metro Rail project have been requested to spray water to reduce dust on their own initiative. At the same time, I have repeatedly asked the BRTA to take action against the vehicles responsible for the pollution. We are trying our best,” he added.

However, the environmental experts are reluctant to accept the additional secretary’s statement. They said no noticeable initiative was being taken to prevent the pollution. This situation will not improve if importance is not given. Hence the city will continue to be at the top of the polluted city list. Moreover, its long-term effects are harming the health of many people in the country and there are risks of further damage in the future.

Pollution expert and Joint Secretary of the Bangladesh Environmental Movement (BAPA) Professor Kamruzzaman Majumder told Bangla Tribune: “We are reporting the reasons for the increase in pollution at different times. We are also talking about how pollution can be controlled. Everyone in the ministry is aware of these, but the real task now is to monitor whether the pollution control initiatives are being implemented at all. The government needs to understand that in the long run, the damage from this pollution is huge.”

Central Committee Vice-President of BAPA Abdul Matin said: “Everyone knows why pollution happens, how it happens, how it can be controlled. However, by just talking about it, nothing will change. I do not see any visible work so far. Pollution cannot be controlled by conducting a couple of campaigns from time to time. We need a lot more campaigns.”

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