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Dhaka Tribune

Tackling Air Pollution: HC wants 5 magistrates deployed across the country

The court also asked the DoE director general (DG) to submit a report by March 10, after formulating a guideline with help of experts on preventing pollution and improving air quality

Update : 02 Feb 2020, 09:08 PM

The High Court on Sunday directed the Public Administration Ministry to deploy five executive magistrates within a month, under the Department of Environment (DoE), to take necessary action against air and environmental pollutions across Bangladesh.

The court also asked the DoE director general (DG) to submit a report by March 10, after formulating a guideline with help of experts on preventing pollution and improving air quality.

The bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and KM Kamrul Kader came up with the orders, after hearing a writ petition filed by rights organization Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB).

Advocate Manzil Murshid represented the petitioner and Advocate Amatul Karim the DoE, while Deputy Attorney General ABM Abdullah Al Mahmud Bashar stood for the state.

The court’s order came at a time when air pollution across Bangladesh, particularly in Dhaka, has reached an intolerable level.

Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The overpopulated megacity, surrounded by brick kilns, has long been battling air pollution. It even ranked 10th among the worst cities in the Air Quality Index (AQI) Sunday morning, with the air classified as “unhealthy.”

Dhaka scored 163 in the AQI at 10:49am on Sunday. When the AQI score is between 151 and 200, everyone may experience health effects while members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

DoE DG AKM Rafique Ahammed also appeared before the court on Sunday, responding to a summons issued on January 13, to brief it on the air quality of capital Dhaka and the human resources of his department.

He said Dhaka's air quality has been worsening since 2002, but the deterioration rate started going up in 2016. He blamed the continuous development and construction works for the worsening air quality.

Rafique told the court that DoE has different steps to prevent environmental pollution, including shutting down illegal brick kilns, around the country, but lack of manpower remained a thorn in the department’s side.

He added that the DoE now have only three magistrates, but it needed eight to launch necessary drives against pollution.

Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

On May 9 last year, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had requested the Public Administration Ministry to deploy the required number of magistrates, but only one magistrate was deployed to Khulna, the DG told the court.

Afterwards, the court on Sunday ordered the appointment of five magistrates within one month.

On January 21 last year, HRPB had filed the writ petition, attaching reports on Dhaka’s air pollution that were published on different newspapers.

Seven days later, the High Court ordered the DoE to conduct mobile court drives twice a week to take legal action against those responsible for air pollution in the capital.

The court had also asked the authorities concerned to take steps to encircle areas undergoing development and repair any damaged areas within 15 days to check the spreading rate of dust, and to spray water in “dust-prone” areas twice a day.

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