Cooling the capital's environment  

Neil Ray     | Published: July 22, 2018 22:07:10 | Updated: July 23, 2018 21:27:11

Thursday, Shrabon 4, 1425 (July 19,2018) was, according to reports, the hottest or the second hottest day of the year. The highest temperature was recorded at 39 degree Celsius in Kurigram on the day. In Dhaka the temperature was 37.6 degree Celsius but it proved particularly unbearable because of lack of monsoon wind from the Bay of Bengal and no cover of clouds all through the day. Dhaka has experienced even higher temperature at 40.2 degree Celsius -the highest in last 50 years - on April 22, 2014 but that did not prove so exhausting.

It was not particularly surprising. After all April is the cruellest month both in England and in this part of the world. But Shrabon is the month of peak monsoon when the overcast sky continues to give in to heavy showers or intermittent light drizzles show no sign of coming to a stop. The sun has no chance of announcing its strong presence amid such prevalence of heavenly soddenness. At best it is allowed to play an occasional game of hide-and-seek.

All this seems to have changed -and changed forever. This year has marked the change quite remarkably. In the summer when rainlessness ought to be the norm, rains started falling in the pattern of the monsoon. This year's summer was largely tolerable because of the overcast condition of the sky and the untimely and unlimited rains. Has the cycle of seasons reorganised, bringing those far ahead of the usual time? Or, is it a one-off aberration?

If one cuckoo (swallow) does not make a spring, this year's erratic behaviour by seasons or their exchange of positions should not say the last word. But the supporting global facts and data presented by environmental scientists would rather confirm that the pattern may indeed have already been set. Global warming has upset behaviour of the seas and the monsoon winds are failing to keep with their dates. In the context of the Indian sub-continent, the winds from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal have been forced to change courses and the land territories in the north have seriously been affected.

No wonder, it was perhaps the wettest summer in Bangladesh and parts of India. Now the question is, if the sky has exhausted itself of its reservoir of water. If it has, the opposite is to happen in the monsoon. It may very well be the driest Shrabon in the history of Bangladesh and elsewhere. That is not an enticing prospect for peoples here. Thursday's heat showed how merciless it can be when the phenomenon is untimely.

People were gasping for breath. Those who were compelled to come out from the cosy corners of homes or had to work or walk outside in the open, had to endure the most cruellest of impacts from a scalding sun. Mercifully, clouds started hovering overhead in the capital on Friday and were generous enough to send a light shower or two. This was enough to cool the temperature. Other parts of the country were bestowed with the rainy gift. The following day was cooler still but the city dwellers encountered a no less menacing problem when they discovered that there was no access to the majority of roads in some of the most important areas. Unbearable traffic congestion was the consequence.

In a city bereft of trees, the heat is particularly telling. One can feel the difference of temperature between areas with trees and without trees. The section of road running between Kakrail Mosque and the Hotel Intercontinental is relatively cooler than other roads in the city. It is coolest in the Dhaka Cantonment where the tree cover is the densest. The programme initiated by the Prime Minister for plantation of 3.0 million trees in memory of the equal number of martyrs with active participation of educational institutions will turn the country greener. But cannot a similar programme be undertaken to bring the capital under a heavy canopy of tall green friends by planting saplings in a planned way on both sides of city roads?    

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