Controlling Air Pollution in Dhaka


The capital city of Dhaka has now become a polluted city in all respects and its growing population has no option but to live here while no effective measures is in sight to control air pollution. Though the situation grave, the government seems to be reluctant about taking any meaningful steps in this regard. Much hue and cry was raised and grave concern expressed about health hazards but all in vain.

As reasons for air pollution in the metropolis are well known to the government and all others, even then the authorities concerned could not take the required steps. The Ministry of Environment this time has suggested a 11-point proposals to control of air pollution in the city. The secretary of the ministry is learnt to have written a letter recommending the eleven-point proposals to the National Board of Revenue ahead of the coming budget. The proposals include as usual the recommendation of a ban on the import of three-wheelers that are mainly responsible for polluting heavily the city's air and atmosphere by carbon emission.

Despite strong recommendation for enforcing a ban on the three-wheeler, the Environment Ministry's top bureaucrat interestingly suggested an alternative to impose 300 per cent duty on import of the undesirable vehicle that is imported from neighbouring India. It is not clear when ban on the import of three-wheeler can play an effective role for controlling the air pollution, why then the suggestion was made to increase only duty.

It was also not clear why the ban that was announced officially last year could not be made effective. Instead of enforcing the ban, a 100 per cent duty was imposed on the import of the three-wheeler in the last year's budget provision. As a result, tempo and autorickshaw continued to increase in number in the city streets to pollute the air. In addition, due to callousness on the part of the road transport authority, number of defective vehicles like buses, mini-buses, trucks emitting heavy black smoke also increased in the capital city in the recent times.

When the recommendations are not strongly backed by will force and determination, the crisis continues to persists as is manifest in the city's air pollution. It is known to the policy planners that tempo and mini-bus can't be the main means of transport of a big and fast growing city like Dhaka, but they exist due to corrupt practices at the higher echelon of the administration. The vital interest of protecting national health appears to be insignificant to them.

The serious crisis of environment pollution should not be taken casually as it involves national health. The government should take it with all seriousness to overcome it.

 Source: The New Nation, 19 April 2000
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