POST TIME: 3 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Air pollution worsening for lack of govt monitoring, say experts
Dust pollution can be controlled to some extent if the Department of Environment enforces relevant laws properly during the construction of buildings and roads.

Air pollution worsening for lack of govt monitoring, say experts

This recent photo shows in a cloud of dust vehicles and commuters pass through a road in the capital. File photo

Air pollution in the city is worsening day by day due to the absence of monitoring and necessary steps need to be taken to control it, said environment experts, reports UNB. They said it is possible to control the air pollution, especially the unusual growth of dust, if the authorities concerned, including the city corporations, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and Dhaka Wasa, carry out their duties properly.
While talking to UNB, Bapa general secretary MA Matin said dust pollution can be controlled to some extent if the Department of Environment enforces the relevant laws during the construction of buildings and roads.
He also suggested using modern techniques for cleaning city roads, spraying water to stop dust from spreading during construction works and keeping construction materials and sites under cover. Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus at BRAC University, told UNB that Bangladesh ranks second among global cities when it comes to pollution.
He cited an example how Beijing reduced its devastating air pollution when commuters had to keep their car headlights on even during daytime. “If they can, we can also control it.”
Ainun Nishat also pointed out that the City Corporation cleaners who remove dirt and dust from roads they in fact deposit those from one place to another. “It doesn't actually help as the dirt remains. Elsewhere in the world, cleaners use water every day to remove dust from roads. If you look at rooms in city homes or offices, you'll see a layer of dust, which is later transmitted into human body, causing diseases,” he added. According to sources at the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, a survey was conducted back in 2013 to pinpoint the main causes and symptoms of pollution.
Carried out by Norway's Institute of Air Research, it was found that 58 per cent of Dhaka's pollution is caused by the nearby brick kilns, 18-19 per cent from vehicles, 10 per cent from road/soil dust and 8-9 per cent from building constructions. It was also found that the root causes for pollution were different for each of the cities. In the case of Dhaka, for example, it is brick kilns, for Chittagong it is industrial smoke emissions, and for Narayanganj and Gazipur it is factory emissions.
According to the Environment Protection Act of 1995 and the Preparation and Restoration of Bricks of 2013 (Control) Act, the main responsibility of controlling air pollution was given to the Department of Environment. But allegations are there that the Department is not enforcing the laws properly. As per a daily air quality report from February 17 by the Meteorological Department's Clean Air and Sustainable Environment project, the air of Narayanganj was said to be the most unhealthy, followed by Dhaka, Gazipur, Chittagong, Khulna and Sylhet.
A Unicef report in October, 2017 said 8,500 children died due to air pollution-related diseases in Bangladesh every year. The project's director, Manzurul Hannan, Khan told UNB that the pollution tends to rise during winter, and the 6000 brick kilns around Dhaka are responsible for it. Contacted, Environment and Forestry Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud told UNB necessary steps will be taken to prevent air pollution caused by building and road constructions.
The minister said there is a lack of magistrates in his ministry to conduct mobile courts. “Sending requests for external magistrates from the District Commissioner's Office is a time-consuming practice. And this is how things get delayed,” he added.
Director General of the Directorate General Health service (DGHS) Prof Abul Kalam Azad told UNB how dust causes deadly diseases among humans, such as lung illnesses, cancer and more.