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Time to clear the air

  • Published at 12:03 am November 8th, 2019
Pollution
Photo: Dhaka Tribune

A few fines here and there will do little to solve the problem

To be consistently be ranked as one of the cities with the worst air pollution is not the achievement that Dhaka should be known for.

Unfortunately, that has remained the case for the last few years, with this month Dhaka being ranked the worst city in terms of air pollution several times already.

The average Air Quality Index (AQI) for Dhaka stood at 264 most recently, with it being as high as 361 in February of this year. 

When the AQI deems to be anything over 200 as being “very unhealthy” and anything over 300 as being “extremely unhealthy,” a proactive approach to the problem becomes imminent. 

It is no wonder then that air pollution has become a primary cause for illnesses and death, with about 123,000 losing their lives to it in 2017 alone. 

Air pollution remains a persistent beast in Dhaka’s eco-system and to no one’s surprise, as attempts to reduce it have repeatedly fallen short. 

The closest we have come to addressing the problem was the Department of Environment’s CASE (Clean Air and Sustainable Environment) initiative, which sought to tackle the issue on two fronts -- environmentally, which addressed emissions from brick kilns, and through transport, which looked at traffic management to regulate emissions.

But little has been done to renew the project or to ensure that Dhaka’s air pollution problem is reduced in the future.

A few fines here and there will do little to solve the problem. We must look at the sources -- industrialization, urbanization, infrastructure construction, burning of waste, etc -- and take a hard line against those who flout the law and generate awareness among the population. 

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