Dhaka suffers the highest air pollution in five years
By Amila Khan
Dhaka topped the list of air pollution throughout the week. It is said the most pollution in the last five years has been in the last week. Experts say the situation will get worse if quick action is not taken. The Environment Ministry says work is underway to prevent air pollution, and many steps have been taken to expedite the work.
According to the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Air Visual, a US-based world-class air verification technology company, Dhaka ranks third in air pollution standards on Friday (December 11, 2020). The AQI standard was 190 at one o’clock this afternoon.
According to experts, this standard is also very unhealthy. A recent study conducted by Stamford University’s Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) analyzed data from 2016 to December 2020, showing that Dhaka had the highest air pollution level in the first week of December five years.
In the first eight days of December 2016, the Air Quality Index in Dhaka was 181. In 2017 it was 189. In 2018 it was 207, and in 2019 it was 173. In contrast, in the first week of this year, the Air Index rose to 237, which is about 37 percent more than in 2019.
Meanwhile, the average level of pollution in the AQI in November this year was 163. Air pollution increased by an average of 45.35 percent in December compared to November this year.
Professor Kamruzzaman Majumder, an Air pollution expert and joint secretary, Bangladesh Environmental Movement Agency (BAPA), said, ‘It is seen by analyzing last five years data, the people of Dhaka have not had the good fortune to enjoy good air even for a single day in December.’ From unhealthy to very unhealthy air condition has prevailed.
More worryingly, the number of unhealthy days has increased compared to the last five years. Meanwhile, the level of pollution in the AQI has never been catastrophic in the last five years. There, on December 6, it was fatal, meaning the AQI rose to 310.
Experts say that if the level of AQI exceeds 200, it is seriously unhealthy. And leaving 300 shows is said to be ‘disastrous’ or very close to incompetent.
According to health experts, heavy substances like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, mercury, and lead are being released into the air, harming lung and heart disease, liver problems, and pregnant mothers. There are also serious health risks for children and the elderly.
Meanwhile, on November 26, last year, the High Court directed the Secretary, MoEFCC, Bangladesh, to form a high-powered committee to determine the cause of air pollution in Dhaka city and formulate policies to prevent and reduce air pollution.
A 16-member committee headed by the secretary of the ministry was formed by court order.
Apart from the two city corporations’ representatives, the committee also includes representatives of the concerned ministries and agencies.
Meanwhile, sources in the Ministry of Environment said they had identified 20 causes of air pollution.
Work has also started by identifying these reasons. The reasons are-
1. Brick kiln
2. Road construction, reconstruction, and repair,
3. Road digging for construction, reconstruction, and repair of service companies,
4. Work on major development projects (e.g., Expressways, Metrorail)
5. Construction of various facilities including multi-storied buildings at government and private levels,
6. Commercial extraction and collection of sand along roads or highways, transportation of sand, soil, cement, and other construction materials in trucks or lorries in open condition,
7. Piles of household and municipal waste on the streets and incineration of waste,
8. Picking up trash from roadside drains and throw it on the road,
9. The dust is spreading through the streets due to clean the roads with brooms in hands and spread dust,
10. Air pollution from many exposed places along different roads,
11. Soil and dust of the broken or damaged part in the middle of the island of road dividers and footpaths,
12. Harmful fumes smoke emissions from severe traffic jams and unfit transport,
13. In various vehicles, the mud attached to the wheels is scattered on the road,
14. Incineration of various educational institutions and government colonies,
15. Garbage and dust from various markets, shopping malls, and commercial buildings are dumped on the streets,
16. Dust and sand in air pollution prone areas of Dhaka city,
17. Disposal of hospital waste,
16. Using more sulfur-containing diesel and
19. Finally, Lack of public awareness.
A senior official of MoEFCC (speaking on anonymity condition) said the high-powered committee had recently convened a meeting due to rising air pollution. At this inter-ministerial meeting, it was decided to form separate committees to strengthen monitoring of the works.
Mr. Moniruzzaman, Additional Secretary of the MoEFCC, said, ‘The factors responsible for preventing air pollution were being identified in advance.
Now the ministry has decided to form sub-committees for those reasons separately. The committees will then be able to monitor each issue separately. This will increase the speed of work.