Only 9 days of clean air in last 13 months
People in Dhaka breathed in clean air on only nine days out of the last 13 months, according to a recent study by Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS).
Referring to the environmental conservation organisation’s report, Dr Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder -- professor of Environmental Science at Stamford University -- at a citizens’ dialogue yesterday also said pollution in the city has increased by about 20 percent in 2019, further raising health concerns.
He was delivering a keynote on “Preventing the effect of air pollution on elders and children in the city” at the dialogue organised by Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) at Jatiya Press Club.
Dr Kamruzzaman said the city’s air was unhealthy on 107 days, very unhealthy on 82 days, and at hazardous level on five days.
Citing the last two years’ ranking of Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) which says Dhaka is the world’s “second least liveable city”, he blamed ongoing development activities, unplanned industrialisation and rapid rise in the number of brick kilns behind it.
“The concentration of particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM10) in Dhaka’s air is increasing day by day, raising the risk of people being affected by pollution -- particularly in the dry season,” he said.
Referring to a report by United States based non-profit organisation, Health Effects Institute (HEI), Dr Kamruzzaman said due to air pollution, 1,22,400 people die every year in Bangladesh.
The number of children born with physical disabilities are increasing for the same reason, he said.
“The number of people with various respiratory diseases is also on the rise,” the expert added.
In his speech, Poba Joint General Secretary Dr Lenin Chowdhury presented a set of recommendations to reduce air pollution.
His recommendations include shutting down illegal brick kilns in and around the city as per a High Court directive, shifting chemical factories from Dhaka, limiting the number of private cars and increasing public buses on city streets, ensuring proper waste management, increasing greenery, placing construction material in designated places, cleaning and repairing roads and footpaths regularly, and above all, implementation of laws on pollution control.
Poba Chairman Abu Naser Khan presided over the dialogue which was addressed by the organisation’s General Secretary Ferdous Ahmed Ujjal and Joint General secretary Hafizur Rahman, among others.