Thousands die unnecessarily!
According to the study 'Ambient Air Pollution: A Global Assessment of Exposure and Burden of Disease' by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Bangladesh came in third highest among 11 Asian countries after India and Indonesia with 37,000 deaths annually from diseases related to air pollution. The average age of people dying is 38.
The main pollutants have been identified as those emanating from cars, coal-fired plants and waste burning. We have a major problem with passenger vehicles, where mass modes of transportation like trains and buses are sorely inadequate and most people have been forced to use private transportation to move around. Waste burning is another major issue and is very widespread in both rural (e.g. burning of crop residue) and urban areas. It is interesting to note that we also suffer from household pollution; particularly in rural areas where wood is still the mainstay for cooking, although liquefied petroleum gas is slowly making inroads.
We have not taken constructive steps to check emissions from cars and industries. With hundreds of thousands of cars and public transports on roads and a large number of those vehicles totally unfit to be on the roads, how long must we wait for government action? Industrial emissions for us is not so much coal-fired power plants but thousands of brick kilns that dot the country, which are by far the highest polluters. These are preventable deaths, but would require immediate steps by policymakers to improve the quality of air we breathe in the country by not enacting new laws but enforcing the ones already in place.