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Dhaka Tribune

ED: Gasping for air

Our air quality is never good, only varying degrees of dangerous

Update : 13 Apr 2021, 05:29 AM

The air quality of our capital city is among the worst in the world, and it is -- twinned with the problem of traffic congestion -- one of the main reasons Dhaka is perceived as a highly unliveable city. Our air has been heavily polluted for many years now, and any action from the authorities has been half-hearted. Year after year, other things seem to take precedence over this most basic of requirements. 

But we must acknowledge the scale of this crisis by looking at the numbers. According to Air Quality Index (AQI) data, in the January to March 2021 period, our air was “hazardous” for 12 days, “very unhealthy” for 58 days, and “unhealthy” for 19 days, and “unhealthy for sensitive groups” for one day. Our air quality, then, is never good, only varying degrees of dangerous. This is not a good sign for a country wishing to develop and improve. 

In the past decade or so, we have been busy increasing incomes and lifting people out of poverty. On that regard, we have performed well. Various economic indicators show that we are doing much better than our neighbouring nations, and yet, well-being is not simply an outcome of growth -- it is absolutely crucial to understand that quality of life depends on various factors that are hard to put a monetary value on, such as quality of our air, water, or food. 

Economic powerhouses such as Singapore have always understood this fact, which is why they have always prioritized on protecting the environment. It is time we learned our lesson, and paid attention to this problem, which is taking a terrible toll on public health.

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