There is no single government authority in Bangladesh which is liable for bringing dust and air pollution under control
Long before the coronavirus pandemic hit Bangladesh and the world, many citizens were already wearing face masks to venture outdoors in our capital city. This is because of our high levels of air pollution. Dust pollution, in particular, is a problem that gets worse every winter, and now that December is here, our air quality is likely to drop steeply, with a corresponding increase in various pollution-related ailments.
Sadly, we are yet to see a realistic strategy in tackling the dust pollution problem. On Monday, Dhaka scored 196 on the real-time air quality index (AQI), which falls in the unhealthy category. This year, with work being done on the Metro Rail Project and the Elevated Expressway, dust levels could be so bad that for groups of the population sensitive to these pollutants, ramifications could be severe -- in fact, to some, it could be no less serious than being infected by coronavirus or dengue.
It is high time our government took this problem seriously. For too long, dust pollution has been shrugged off as a relatively minor nuisance, rather than one of the gravest health challenges facing our country.
Even now, there is no single government authority in Bangladesh which is liable for bringing dust and air pollution under control. As a result, the buck is always passed, and excuses are always made, but very little is ever done in practice.
The high death toll from Covid-19 should well open our eyes. A nation needs to keep its population healthy at all times, and prevention is always better than cure. When we, as a population, are faced with serious health risks any given day even in normal circumstances, our chances of succeeding against unforeseen health challenges, like the current pandemic, look gloomy.