Breathing is vital to a healthy life. But the quality of air in our beloved Dhaka city at present is not at all conducive to healthy living. In fact, the opposite can be said to be true about the polluted air of Dhaka that we are forced to breathe in. Unfortunately, Dhaka has emerged as the second most polluted city in the 2019 World Air Quality Report. Bangladesh topped the list of the world’s most polluted countries in 2019 for PM2.5 exposure, according to an IQAir AirVisual report.
The condition of Dhaka’s air pollution worsens during the dry winter season every year giving rise to cough, cold and many respiratory illnesses. This year with the gravity of the Covid-19 second wave in the offing, there is increased concern about keeping the air quality less polluted than previous years.The Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), a rights body formed by concerned citizens, filed a writ petition attaching reports published in different newspapers on air pollution in Dhaka. The High Court (HC) issued a nine-point directive after hearing the writ petition by HRPB. Among other things, the Department of Environment (DoE) was asked to shut down illegal brickfields operating without license in the surroundings of Dhaka city. Most of the points of the HC directives are such that these should have been normal practices like in the civilised countries of the world.
Some practices like trucks covering sand or soil while carrying them, construction sites being covered to prevent dust from spreading, stopping the burning of tyres and recycling of vehicles’ batteries without approval, completing road construction and excavation as per rules, sprinkling water on the roads to settle the dust from floating in the air, seizing vehicles that emit black smoke, etc. should not require Court orders, but must be everyday normal practices to keep the air clean anywhere.
Reputable institutions like Harvard University, USA, Cambridge University, UK and scientific studies published in the journal Science of the Total Environment establishes a correlation between death from Covid-19 and exposure to air pollutants like car exhaust fumes and burning of fossil fuels.
As per the HC order, the DoE and the city corporations must work together to improve the air quality of the capital during this winter.