City reeling from dust

Published : 23 Jan 2024 09:27 PM

The capital Dhaka’s air is now ‘extremely unhealthy’ as dust coupled with thick black smoke emitting from vehicles is swirling everywhere in the densely populated city. Vehicular emissions and construction dust are two major factors in worsening air pollution. 

With the advent of winter Dhaka’s air quality starts deteriorating due to lack of rains, causing unchecked discharge of dust from construction works and release of pollutants from running vehicles and mills and factories adjacent to the city. The city’s air always remains thick with dust during this dry season. 

However, the authorities concerned of most the development projects are least bothered about taking any measure to ease the dust menace. We the city people breathe air, which contains high level of pollutants, every day. 

Every year, Dhaka’s sky turns sickly yellow in dry season, prompting the authorities to carry out ‘name-only drive’ against the dust pollution. Like every year, around this time, the issue of dust pollution grab headlines in the media, but the authorities appear to be turning blind eye to the problem. 

The authorities do not take any measures like spraying water on the roads to prevent spread of dust. Therefore, we city dwellers bear the brunt of the polluted air.

It is unacceptable that city people are still breathing heavily polluted air covered with dust and thick smoke. If the authorities do not take urgent action on air pollution, we will never be able to achieve sustainable development.

City people are still

breathing heavily polluted 

air covered with dust 

and thick smoke

Apart from the capital, dust has also become the major source of air pollution in other metropolitan cities and district towns during the dry season. Unplanned construction work is mainly blamed for the menace. Many old-age people and children in the city suffer from respiratory diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma due to the dust pollution.

We have already started experiencing terrible dust pollution in the capital. If proper steps are not taken to deal with it and the situation will deteriorate further in the coming days. Therefore, we think that dust is no longer an environmental issue as it is going to be a major public health concern. 

The authorities concerned will have to take an effective action plan and strengthen its monitoring system to reduce dust pollution across the city. 

Taking into account the harmful impact of dust pollution, the authorities should spread water on all the busy roads in the city, particularly during the dry season.  According to a report of World Health Organisation (WHO) released on Tuesday, Dhaka’s air quality ranked as the fourth most polluted in the world with an AQI score of 214 as the pollution level in the capital has already started reaching its extreme level due to uncontrolled discharge of dust from construction works and road digging. 

Air pollution kills many people every year, mainly due to increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections. Air pollution caused by dust is nothing new for the people living in the capital Dhaka and its adjacent areas.

The city corporations are well aware that dust pollution intensifies every year during winter, but they have no action plans to deal with the situation. Apart from the city corporations, the Department of Environment (DoE) responsible for taking a proper plan to check dust pollution in the city is also indifferent to the matter.

Therefore, air pollution still remains one of the top most challenges for our country’s major cities. Air pollution consistently remain one of the top risk factors in causing death and disability worldwide.

Breathing of polluted air is responsible for heart disease, chronic respiratory problems, lung infections and also deadly cancer, according to various studies. The dust pollution is on the rise for preventive measures, proper action plans, initiatives and enforcement of law.

So, the government must take immediate measures to protect people from air pollution.