• Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:47 pm

Awami League hosts seminar to discuss Dhaka's air pollution

  • Published at 08:59 pm June 1st, 2019
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Speakers at a seminar titled- ‘Air Pollution: Our Responsibilities and Initiatives,’ at the CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka on Saturday Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka on scored 115 in the Air Quality Index (AQI) according to AirVisual

Voicing concerns about air quality in Dhaka, which had the fifth worst city air quality globally as of writing this report, Awami League has decided to join the fight against air pollution.

Dhaka yesterday scored 115 in the Air Quality Index (AQI) according to AirVisual.  

The Awami League’s Forest and Environment Affairs Sub-Committee organized a seminar, "Air Pollution: Our Responsibilities and Initiatives," yesterday morning, at the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific auditorium, in Dhaka.

Speaking at the event, environmentalists and urban planners said the absence of an air pollution forecasting mechanism is preventing people from getting access to updated real time air pollution data. 

Terming Bangladesh "highly vulnerable" to air pollution, they urged the government to set up an air pollution forecasting system to provide people with air quality data and help them realize their role in it.

Speakers at the seminar also blamed the Department of Environment (DoE) for its inaction against the biggest source of Dhaka's air pollution: brick kilns which contribute 60% of the city’s total air pollution.

However, defending the DoE, Supreme Court lawyer Monjil Morshed said: “The DoE cannot conduct drives against air polluters due to a shortage of magistrates. The department requires at least six magistrates to carry out its duties.”

Awami League presidium member Begum Matia Chowdhury said: “Bangladesh has become a developing country and people have begun constructing more buildings. The number of brick kilns grew quickly due to the high demand for bricks. However, using eco-friendly Hollow Block bricks should help reduce the pollution.”

Matia, a former agriculture minister, urged farmers to use vermin compost fertilizer to save the environment from pollution.

Speaking at the seminar, Dr Pran Gopal Datta, former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said Dhaka's air "is terrible to breathe."

Pran Gopal said: “Although the government is taking measures to tackle air pollution, it will be impossible for them to do it alone. Unless people are made aware of their roles in increasing or reducing air pollution, no sustainable change can be made to Dhaka's air quality.”

Iqbal Habib, an environmental activist and architect, said people of Bangladesh are not aware about environmental issues, including air pollution, due to lack of access to real time information.

Dr Hafiza Khatun, professor of Geography and Environment Department at Dhaka University, says climate change could reduce crop production by as much as 26% by 2030.

She said: “Similar to initiatives on preventing terrorism and militancy, the government should use mosques, libraries, and other institutions to raise awareness among people about air pollution and climate change.”

Former chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) of Bangladesh, Prof Nazrul Islam, recommended that universities in Bangladesh conduct qualitative research on air pollution, which should be funded by the state.

Nazrul added: “We should follow China and Bhutan’s theories of building a green economy. We all should come together to build a green world for our next generation.” 

Dr Mohammad Aftab Ali Sheikh presented the keynote speech and Prof Dr Khandokar Bajlul Haque, chairman of the Forest and Environment affairs sub-committee, chaired the seminar.