Tackling pollution needs to be a priority
Barry Commoner once said: “Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented.” The worst sufferer of such a situation is our Dhaka city.
According to Air Visual, an air quality measuring application, on January 30, 2020, our city stood first and scored 370 in terms of worst air quality, whereas Delhi scored 188 and came fifth.
According to Arannayk Foundation, in 2019, Bangladesh’s forest coverage was 17.5% of the total land area when, in fact, a country needs 25%.
In Bangladesh, we have the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and the Forest Act, 1927. If we look at both of the laws, then we will find that both laws are providing guidelines regarding punishments for anyone associated with any activity which is detrimental towards nature.
But these punishments are doing little to resolve the problem.
In every city, we can see that the number of buildings is increasing as, inevitably, tree coverage continues to decrease. Why not use rooftop gardens as an alternative way of introducing greenery into the urban landscape?
As a law student, I cannot help but ask myself: How can we foster this process by introducing any incentive in the law? Since owners of buildings have to pay a certain amount of tax, why not provide tax breaks to buildings which have roof gardens.
And since, before construction work starts, permission is required from the authorities, why don’t the authorities ensure that there are roof gardens incorporated into plans for new buildings?
They should have a specific layout in the design for rooftop gardens -- if they don’t, the government can simply refuse to provide permission in that case.
If the government effectively implements such a law, then it will radically change the scenario in Bangladesh as we know it, and we will be more successful in ensuring the dream that Mayor Annisul Huq had of a greener Dhaka.
These are only two ways in which we can ensure that Bangladesh continues to move towards a more sustainable place. If we don’t act now, it might be too late. After all, to paraphrase Barry Commoner, environmental pollution can only be prevented.
Samiul Azim is a freelance contributor.