Dhaka’s air pollution: HC seeks quick action as it outlined

The High Court on Tuesday ordered the authorities concerned to take steps and submit a report within 30 days to implement its nine-point directive to bring down the air pollution level in Dhaka and its adjacent areas.

The virtual bench of Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Mohammad Ali passed the order after hearing a petition filed by Advocate Manzill Murshid on November 15.

The media reports over Dhaka’s air pollution which the petitioner enclosed with the petition is alarming, the court observed and said that citizen’s fundamental right to life might be impeded if the present air pollution level of Dhaka is not brought under control, Manzill Murshid said.

The HC issued the nine-point directive on January 13 after hearing a writ petition filed by the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB).

The nine-point directive includes ensuring the use of covers on trucks or other vehicles that transport sand or soil in capital Dhaka.

At places where construction work is going on, contractors should cover the work to prevent the spread of dust, it said.

As per its previous order, the HC instructed the authorities concerned to sprinkle water on streets that were left out.

The government has been instructed to ensure complete road construction or excavation work or carpeting complying with laws and rules.

The court also ordered the authorities to seize the vehicles emitting black smoke.

It asked the government to take steps to fix the economic life of different cars or vehicles as per section 36 of the Road Transport Act 2018 and restrict plying of those vehicles which have no economic life to run on roads in the capital.

The DoE was asked to shut down in next two months the rest of the illegal brick fields which are operating without license.

Appropriate steps should be taken to stop burning of tyres and recycling of vehicles’ batteries without approval from the DoE, the court said.

The HC asked the authorities concerned of the government to take steps to ensure that all the market owners or shopkeepers keep their garbage in bags and the city corporations to remove those after the shops or markets are closed.

The HRPB filed the writ petition attaching reports published in different newspapers on January 21 last year on air pollution in Dhaka.

The poor air quality of Dhaka has become a serious cause of concern among its residents as there is a correlation between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants.

Also read: HC issues 9-point directive to reduce air pollution in Dhaka

Air Pollution & Corona

Researchers at Harvard University found an increase of only one microgram per cubic metre in PM 2.5–dangerous tiny pollutants in the air– is associated with an 8% increase in the Covid-19 death rate.

Another study in the Netherlands suggests that a small increase in exposure to pollution raised the death rate by up to 21 percent.

A study by scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK also found a correlation between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and ground-level ozone from car exhaust fumes or burning of fossil fuels.

A recent study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment has also shown that long-term exposure to air pollution can be “one of the most important contributors to fatalities caused by the coronavirus.

When the AQI value is between 151 and 200, everyone may begin to experience health effects while members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

The AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, informs people how clean or polluted the air of a certain city is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them.

Dhaka, which remained the world’s most polluted city in 2019, has been named the world’s most polluted country for PM2. 5 exposure while Dhaka has emerged as the second most polluted city in the 2019 World Air Quality Report.

Its air quality usually improves during monsoon.

The smog from brick kilns, smoke from unfit vehicles and dust generated from public and private constructions sites were the main sources of air pollution.

With the deterioration of coronavirus situation, the country’s air quality now can pose a big challenge to the authorities concerned for securing the life of people.

Bangladesh: World’s ‘worst’ polluted country

Bangladesh topped the list of the world’s most polluted countries in 2019 for PM2.5 exposure, according to an IQAir AirVisual report.

As per the IQAir AirVisual’s 2019 World Air Quality Report, Bangladesh had particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) 83.30 μg/m3 on average. The air was categorised as ‘unhealthy’.

The 2019 World Air Quality Report is based on data from the world’s largest centralised platform for real-time air quality data, combining efforts from thousands of initiatives run by citizens, communities, companies, non-profit organisations and governments.

It includes only PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) data as acquired from ground-based air quality monitoring stations with high data availability.

To track outdoor air quality, the report focused on the concentrations of two pollutants in particular: fine particle air pollution (particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in aerodynamic diameter, or PM2.5) and ozone found near ground level (tropospheric ozone).

This assessment also tracked exposure to household air pollution from burning fuels such as coal, wood, or biomass for cooking.

Air pollution consistently ranks among the top risk factors for death and disability worldwide. Breathing polluted air has long been recognized as increasing a person’s chances of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections, and cancer, according to the report.

Source: United News of Bangladesh