The air pollution in the capital Dhaka has reached an intolerable level. The city has been ranked as one of the worst in Air Quality Index (AQI) recently.
The AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, tells people how clean or polluted the air of a certain city is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them. Bangladesh's overcrowded capital has been grappling with air pollution for a long time. The quality usually improves during monsoon.
The country's High Court (HC) has recently asked the government to constitute a high-powered committee to formulate a guideline in order to reduce air pollution in and around Dhaka city. It passed the order following the capital's worsening air quality in recent times.
The HC also ordered the authorities concerned to conduct mobile courts to shut down illegal brick fields in five districts, including Dhaka. The World Bank and the environment department recently reported air pollution of Dhaka and identified brick kilns as the number-one polluter.
There're many reasons for air pollution in Dhaka. There must be coordination in building public and private infrastructure, and among the agencies working with utility services. Proper management of various projects, including the elevated expressway, must be ensured.
The city's air pollution is getting worse day by day. The responsibility lies with the Department of Environment to solve the problem. The department of and the World Bank published a research report on the sources of air pollution in Bangladesh in early 2019. According to the research findings, the three main sources are brick kilns, fumes of vehicles and dust from construction sites. The dust particles are contributing to the city's worsening air pollution due to construction work without putting the site under cover.
According to medical experts, dust concentration in the air usually increases five times during the dry season, and dust particles from construction sites worsen the situation. Inhaling dust can severely damage the respiratory system and cause various lung diseases as well as viral and bacterial infection.
Along with the air pollution, noise pollution, also known as sound pollution, has turned acute in the capital city as it always goes far beyond the permissible level, putting the public health at risk. The survey, conducted at 70 points of the city, reveals that sound pollution has reached the highest 120-130 decibels (dB) at many points -- almost double the permissible level.
In fact, noise pollution in the city has gone beyond control due to lax enforcement of the Noise Pollution Control Rules 2006 by the authorities concerned and lack of awareness among the people about the rules. The mobile courts of the traffic police can impose a fine of Tk 100 as per the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983 against a vehicle for violating various traffic related offences.
Around 25 per cent of the surveyed people of Dhaka city suffer from lung function abnormalities due to higher extent of air pollution. Such lung function abnormalities cause different types of airborne diseases, like bronchiolitis, pneumonia, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Reports say air pollution is a major issue around the world and kills seven million people annually -- one in every eight people around the world. And, of course, air pollution is a well-known and much-complained-about fact in Bangladesh. Few major global cities suffer from air pollution Dhaka.
The government needs to conduct serious awareness campaign on the rules and health related issues out of noise pollution and become more active in enforcement of the law.
Use of the vehicular hydraulic horns at any place of the city should be completely banned. Monitoring teams should be expanded at main traffic points to determine whether the vehicles follow the rules or not.
There is a need for taking effective steps to control air pollution in Dhaka by all government and private agencies or organisations.