A host of green organisations yesterday demanded immediate action to reduce air pollution in Bangladesh, which has become one of the world's 10 worst performers as revealed by a recent environmental study of Yale University, USA.
Speaking at a rally in front of the capital's Jatiya Press Club, the activists blamed emissions from brick kilns, old vehicles, burning of coal, and dust for air pollution in Dhaka city. Of the 10,000 brick kilns across the country, half are located around the capital, contributing to 30 percent of air pollution in Dhaka, they said.
Citing Yale's Environment Performance Index 2014, the speakers said Bangladesh had ranked 169th among 178 countries in terms of environmental soundness and ranked lowest, 178th, in terms of fresh air. The latter makes Bangladesh "a champion in polluting air", they said.
According to the findings of the World Bank and the Department of Environment, a cubic metre of Dhaka city air contains 250 milligrammes of airborne particulate matter, five times the tolerable amount, the green activists said in a press release.
Due to such a high level of air pollution, people are increasingly being infected with chronic cold, inflammation of lungs and respiratory system, pneumonia, bronchitis and cancer. A 2000 survey of British donor agency, DFID, revealed that airborne diseases were a major cause of deaths in Bangladesh, said the media statement.
The environmental bodies said that in the face of their relentless movement, the government had removed two-stroke auto-rickshaws, known as "baby taxis", from the capital and stopped importing petrol containing lead several years ago, but the air pollution again reached a dangerous level today.
At the same time, the diesel-run baby taxies are polluting the air in other divisional and district headquarters and in areas where the vehicles were sent, said the release.
In order to fight air pollution, the environmental groups made a range of recommendations, including replacing vehicles as old as 16 years or more, reducing the import of reconditioned cars, checking the introduction of small vehicles like taxi while increasing the number of mass transports such as bus, and improving rail and waterway transportation systems, and introducing green, modern technology in brick fields.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) Abdul Matin presided over the rally, organised by 13 organisations--Bapa, Green Voice, Sundor Jibon, Nirapod Development Foundation, WBB Trust, Blue Planet Initiative, CIDAS, Citizen Rights Movement, Unnayan Dhara Trust, Seba, Adi Dhakabasi Forum, Peace, and United Peoples Trust.