Located about 8km away from Dhaka’s Gulistan, the Matuail landfill is a 100-acre area that serves as the disposal site for solid waste from areas under DSCC Mahmud Hossain Opu

The amount equals the emission of 190,000 passenger cars

Dhaka’s Matuail landfill emits four tons of methane – a gas that raises atmospheric temperature 80 times more than CO2 – into the atmosphere every hour, says a recent report by Canada-based emission-tracking company GHGSat Inc.

According to experts and environmentalists, unchecked methane emission is one of the main factors responsible for the ongoing countrywide heatwave and rising temperatures.

GHGSat, on April 17, after analyzing several satellite images, found that the landfill emits four tons of methane every hour.

The amount equals the amount of emission from a total of 190,000 passenger cars, according to a recent news report.

Many news outlets both at home and abroad, including The Daily Star and Bloomberg, have done reports on the presence of methane in Dhaka skies, citing different emission tracking companies.

Responding to such alarming findings, the Ministry of Environment has formed a 10-member technical committee to inspect not only the site in question, but also other methane emission sources and independently determine emission levels. 

Also Read – No respite from soaring mercury

The probe body has one month to submit a report on the matter. 

However, local experts and officials at the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), which operates the Matuail landfill, have termed the GHGSat estimation “unbelievable.”

The workers in the Matuail landfill work in a very hazardous environment | Mahmud Hossain Opu

Shafiullah Siddique Bhuiyan, project director of Matuail landfill, while speaking to The Business Standard, said: “It seems unbelievable that so much methane gas is being emitted. We will see on what basis they (GHGSat) have provided such information. We will look into the amount of methane and other gases.”

He further said besides landfills, methane gas is also emitted from various sources, including agricultural fields, industrial units, power plants and fertilizer factories. 

“Nothing can be said about the veracity of the claim until the committee reports.”

Dr Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus at the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research at Brac University, also believes that such information on methane emissions is not reliable.

Also Read – Study: Global methane emissions record high

“Here, we do not have the main source of methane like a coal mine. We don’t have a power plant here too. There is no question of a bursting gas pipeline. There is also no paddy field in the picture which has been shown,” he told the newspaper.

“… It is not clear on what basis it has been said that four tons of methane are being emitted from Matuail,” he said.

Saying that methane was very harmful for the atmosphere, Dr Ainun Nishat suggested that it was important to learn the real picture of methane emissions. 

“Methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in raising the temperature of the atmosphere. So the emission of both gases should be reduced. The situation should be monitored regularly by the committee,” he added. 

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