Khulna city chokes on dust
Khulna city dwellers have been facing intense dust pollution for the last couple of years, as long stretches of roads and drains are being reconstructed under different development projects.
The situation especially deteriorates during dry weather, as no remedial steps are taken by Khulna City Corporation (KCC) and other agencies. But the city produces so much dust that even monsoon does not bring respite.
According to Public Works Department (PWD), KCC is currently developing a drainage system at a cost of Tk 823 crore and a road development project for Tk 607 crore. Of this, works worth Tk 322 crore are being carried out in 31 wards, while Tk 128 crore is being spent on a waterlogging project.
Besides, works of the road department, electricity department, Khulna Development Authority (KDA) and PWD are going on for another Tk 500 crore. These works are continuously polluting the air.
Construction materials have been piled up by home-owners and sand traders almost everywhere, while over 400 sand-laden trucks ply the city daily.
Usually, city corporation authorities are tasked with repairing and carpeting roads after finishing development work. However, service-providing government agencies, particularly KCC and Khulna Wasa, often shift responsibility in regards to this issue.
Doly Kundu, a resident and mother of a fifth-grader, said her daughter uses Sonadanga Natunrasta Road four times a day to attend school and coaching. And for this, she has to endure the dust pollution daily.
"Lack of repair has turned the road into a storehouse for dust and sand. The dust spreads all around the area when trucks and buses move on the road," she said.
"Children are the main victims of the pollution," she added.
Visiting different areas, including Rupsha Shipyard Road, Gallamary Moilapota Road, Sonadanga Natunrasta Road, BIDC Road, Abu Naser Bypass Road and Boyra Mostormor Bypass Road, it was seen that almost all big roads are in awful condition.
Two government hospitals, Khulna Medical College Hospital and Sheikh Abu Naser Specialized Hospital, are situated by Sonadanga Natunrasta Road, along with around 25 clinics.
And so, hundreds of patients breathe air full of dust while visiting the facilities.
Anisur Rahman, conservancy officer of KCC, said KCC has two modern road-sweeping trucks, which are equipped with water tanks for spraying roads.
But they are only used on special occasions, like state events, he said. "We generally do not use these machines at construction sites."
Mustafa Saroar, head of urban and regional planning department at Khulna University of Engineering and Technology, said lack of coordination among utility-providing agencies add to the public's woes. The agencies do not take people's sufferings into account while implementing projects.
"On some occasions, the same roads are dug up several times. On top of that, the dug-up roads are left unattended for months," he said.
Dr Mehedi Nawaz, vice principal of Khulna Medical College, said polluted air can cause conditions like asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and rhinitis.
Md Iqbal Hossain, director of Department of Environment, Khulna, said although the air index of Khulna is "moderate", all service providers should take projects after proper consultation to reduce people's sufferings.
"I will call all service providers to take necessary steps to prevent dust pollution," he said.
Aminul Islam Munna, panel mayor-1 of KCC, said around 71 roads and drains are being repaired in 31 wards of the city. "We know people are facing dust problem. We are trying to finish the works on time to reduce their suffering. However, some contractors leave construction materials on roads, which creates dust pollution. We will take action against them."