During this year, metro rail will be introduced to Dhaka's public transportation system. This project will actively work to alter the city of Dhaka's transportation infrastructure. The biggest cause of Dhaka's environmental degradation is traffic. Traffic congestion and Dhaka are now used interchangeably. The traffic congestion in the capital has turned so bad that you can be sure of your travel time but not your arrival time. It is difficult to estimate how many steps, such as extending flyovers, lanes, and highways, have been made to reduce traffic congestion to a manageable level. However, there is no escape from suffering and gridlock. Day by day, the situation is becoming worse. Metro rail appears to arrive as a solution for Dhaka's traffic when the residents of the city are in a state of frustration about this deterioration. When Metrorail will come into operation, it would speed up transportation as well as reduce population pressure in congested areas. With a speed of 100 mph, it will take only 38 minutes to travel from Uttara to Motijheel. Every four minutes, a train will depart. It will be possible for 60,000 people each hour to move in both directions.
Presently, Dhaka and other large cities suffer from severe air pollution. Air pollution in Dhaka is primarily caused by unfit automobiles that discharge pollutants, including dust and black smoke. Older vehicles mostly create large amounts of black smoke which have been identified as one of the main contributors to air pollution. Millions of people in Dhaka are affected by air, water and noise pollution, which is a serious environmental issue that has an impact on their health and general well-being. A study of the emission inventory shows that motor vehicles are a significant source of air pollution, with diesel vehicles responsible for over 80% of it. One of the biggest concerns at the moment is global warming. An environmental worry known as "global warming" or "the greenhouse effect" is the potential for a change in the planet's climate. This indicates that when oil is burned, a higher percentage of harmful emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulphur dioxide (SO2), are produced. Ash particles from burning coal and fuel oil are also released into the environment, where they are picked up by the atmosphere and add to air pollution. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can have both short- and long-term negative health effects. Long-term PM2.5 exposure is connected with decreased life expectancy and increased mortality risks from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Since 2015, according to recent research by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, growing air pollution and lead poisoning have killed roughly nine million people annually. According to research on air pollution connected to health burdens, the nation recorded a total of 173,500 deaths in 2019 as a result of air pollution; the number is 50,000 more than in the year 2017. The country saw 123,000 fatalities in 2017.
There will be less public transportation and cars on the road once MRT is on. As a result, there will be less potential air and noise pollution. A well-designed metro rail system combined with enhanced bus service may make it necessary to limit the use of private vehicles. Therefore, reducing the number of private vehicles and using public transportation such as metro rail will greatly reduce pollution in Dhaka city.
The writer is the Dean, Faculty of Science and Chairman, Department of Environmental Science, Stamford University Bangladesh