Air pollution is a common phenomenon in major urban centres around the world. What is not common, however, is that the authorities in big cities in our country are taking a hands-off position and letting things get out of control. This is where Dhaka city is excelling. Air pollution is getting worse progressively and now dust has been added to the various toxins in the air resulting in various lung-related diseases affecting both children and adults. Environmental experts have pointed out that it is possible to minimise the adverse effects of pollution simply by enforcing laws and rules already in existence, but for that to happen, government bodies that are mandated to fight pollution must act.
A Norwegian survey in 2013 found that 58 percent of Dhaka's pollution is caused by brick kilns. 18-19 percent of pollution comes from vehicles, 10 percent from road/soil dust, and 8-9 percent due to construction. There are so many things that can be done but aren't. Had there been enforcement, we would have seen the relocation, or closure, of illegal brick kilns to outside of Dhaka unless they conformed to minimum health standards, and BRTA would have had regular spot checks on the roads to measure vehicle exhaust emissions and fined errant vehicles. Were the authorities concerned with public health, steps would have been taken by the two Dhaka city corporations to spray water on dusty roads to keep dust under control.
For our cities to have a healthy population, we have to accept the fact that there is no recourse to implementing rules, regulations and laws. And while we thank the Directorate General of Health Services advising us to use facemasks while moving around outside, we would also like to ask city authorities and relevant departments to do their job so that city residents may breathe a little cleaner air.