When the weather cools down in autumn, the sky becomes clear, and the nights are drenched in dew, the air is supposed to become clear. But the exact opposite happens in Dhaka. The level of air pollution in the city begins to increase around this time. As reported in Prothom Alo last Tuesday, the presence of pollutants in the air of the capital has already increased to a level that it is extremely harmful to health.
Air Visual, the world's leading air quality watchdog, has warned that air quality in Dhaka will remain unhealthy until Thursday unless effective measures are taken to curb air pollution. It has been advised that the elderly and children wear masks when they go out and to keep the windows closed to prevent polluted air from entering the house. Air quality in 11 major cities of the country is also monitored daily from the observatories of our Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The air quality in the capital was very unhealthy on Monday.
Dhaka remains on the top of the list of cities in the world that are suffering from air pollution. India's Delhi is above all, Dhaka is right after that. Sometimes Dhaka surpasses Delhi. Last year, the global report titled 'The State of Global Air-2019' found that Bangladesh is one of the five countries in the world where 100% of the people live in polluted air. And Bangladesh is fifth in terms of the number of deaths due to the harmful effects of air pollution. In 2016, a total of 123,000 people died due to air pollution in Bangladesh.
Metals like sulfur, lead, zinc etc. mixed in the air are harmful to human health, especially for children. According to a study, air pollution accounts for two-thirds of the deaths per year due to the harmful effects of natural pollution. Air pollution causes heart disease, respiratory problems, lung infections and cancer. The harmful effects of air pollution on the health of children and pregnant women in particular are evident.
One of the causes of air pollution in Dhaka is excessive movement of motor vehicles. Various types of toxins, including black smoke, are released into the air from unfit motor vehicles. In addition, the burning of low quality coal, plastic, etc. in many brick kilns around the city has poisoned the air. Apart from that, pollutants spread in the air day and night from innumerable factories in and around Dhaka city.
Another big problem of this city is that all kinds of construction work including road digging is going on all the year round. As a result, a lot of dust is spread in the air.
In Dhaka metropolis many organisations are responsible for this pollution in various ways. It is unknown whether they have any plan to reduce air pollution. For example, the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation is responsible for stopping the movement of unfit motor vehicles responsible for spreading harmful substances including black smoke in the air. It is the responsibility of the department of environment to ensure the use of environment-friendly fuels in the brickfields around Dhaka. If these responsibilities are properly performed, it is possible to reduce the level of air pollution.
Ziaul Haque, director of the air quality department at the environment department, told Prothom Alo that they have started closing down illegal brickfields since last year. This year, strict measures will be taken to control construction dust and vehicle smoke along with brick kilns. We want results not big talk.