Major polluters range from brick kilns to construction work, as well as vehicle exhaust
Dhaka has consistently topped rankings of the most polluted cities, most recently ranking second on the world Air Quality Index (AQI). This is not a mere inconvenience -- it is a health emergency.
Yesterday’s AQI score of 281, classified as “very unhealthy,” is not all that far away from the “hazardous” category, which begins at a score of 301. Air pollution of this extent can result in lasting breathing difficulties among the capital’s residents, and with the pandemic still raging, it poses an even greater risk for those who are already vulnerable or compromised.
As we have previously editorialized, there is no single solution to this problem. Major polluters range from brick kilns to construction work, as well as vehicle exhaust from fuel with high levels of sulphur, and this is to say nothing of the innumerable other sources contributing to Dhaka’s poor air quality.
Consequently, while initiatives such as the Department of Environment’s plans to tear down illegal brick kilns and set national ambient air quality standards for pollutants are admirable and certainly steps in the right direction, it is not enough to go after one or two of the contributing sources.
A holistic approach must be undertaken, aiming to address Dhaka’s air pollution problem in its entirety. If necessary, we must take pointers from more developed nations that prioritize their environment and air quality, and try to adapt and implement it here. Unless something is done, Dhaka will continue to become an increasingly unliveable city.