When a city holds the unenviable record of remaining at the top of the list of the most polluted cities in the world for an entire week except a day, the gravity of the problem paints a bleak picture for its citizens. If this is not enough cause for concern, another study finding that the city is mired with heavy pollution for 317 days out of 365 days of a year certainly exposes the nightmarish living condition in that urban conundrum. Well, the city concerned is none other than Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Narayanganj, Gazipur and Savar are also turning dangerous for air pollution. Usually, Dhaka and New Delhi wrest the dubious title of the air pollution competition from each other but at times a few Chinese cities also beat them. But on Tuesday last week, Uzbekistan's Tashkent snatched the pollution championship, rather surprisingly.
This shows that there are more contenders for the title but it does in no way alleviate the problem of poisonous air the inhabitants of Dhaka are inhaling as a slow and sure dose of deadly agent. However, one day's exception in a week is not the good work of a deliberate attempt, it just happened because Tashkent on that day somehow produced more pollution than Dhaka, the second most pollutant on that day. A webinar titled, 'Capital Dhaka's Hazardous Air: Current Urbanisation Perspectives and Way Forward' organised by the Institute for Planning and Development (IPD) on Saturday last deliberated the issue in detail and suggested a number of remedial measures for the problem. It is not for the first time that the most disastrous impacts of extreme air, sound and water pollution of Dhaka City have been brought to the notice of the policymakers. In case of Buriganga's water pollution, even the High Court's order has not been complied with.
The general apathy towards environmental pollution, a symptom of underdevelopment, has been responsible for this gradual deterioration of air and water quality in the city and the rivers around its vicinity. There is an impression that the city is unmanageable and ungovernable, which is not at all true. It is the lack of proper attention that is leading the sprawling city's conditions from bad to worse. The argument that various development works now going on are producing enormous amount of dust is flawed. Half of the metro rail has been completed and the elevated expressway's ground work is mostly complete. The remaining work no longer produces as much dust as it did at the initial stages. Then there are advanced technologies to take care of dust pollution at work sites, which have been ignored.
The fact is, worn-out buses which had completed their life span long ago are in service in the city. In India a bus that has run 0.75 million km is scheduled for sending to the junk yard. In Bangladesh 15 years are the maximum life span for motor vehicles but they run well beyond the limit. Then there are brick kilns around the city and Narayanganj to make the environment more hazardous. Also dumping and burning of waste, including medical disposables with hardly any scientific arrangement for incineration of the latter pose a grave threat to human life. All these call for strategic solution. Finally, increasing the green covering, the city can keep its arteries cleaner from carbon-dioxide gas invasion.