Bangladesh – Dhaka population suffer worsening air pollution


Location: Dhaka

Language: Bengali

Sound: Natural

Duration: 00:5:50

Source: A24

Restrictions: A24 Subscribers

Dateline: 02-25-2022


The heavily populated capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, is one of the most polluted cities on the earth. In the last three months, the highest average AQI score was 365 on January 20, 2022. An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered “poor,” while a reading of 301 to 400 is said to be “hazardous,” posing serious health risks to the city population; that is where Dhaka falls under. An AQI between 401 and 500 is said to be “severe.” AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, is used by government agencies to inform people how clean or polluted the air of a certain city is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them. With the advent of winter, the city’s air quality starts deteriorating sharply due to the massive discharge of pollutant particles from construction works, rundown roads, brick kilns and other sources. Experts say the exposure to a high level of air pollution weakens people’s respiratory and immune systems, causes various cold-related diseases, making them more susceptible to Covid-19.

Shot list

– (Soundbite) Taufuqur Rahman, a Research Associate who takes Air and Sound pollution index reading

“Our today’s survey location is the Parliament Building area. This is a calm and quiet area. So air and sound pollution index should be normal here. Instead of that, here both air and sound pollution index stood 2-4 times higher than the normal average.”

– (Soundbite) Prof. Ahmed Kamruzzaman Majumder, Dean of the Department of Science and Chairman of the Department of Environmental Science, Stamford University.

“Air Pollution increased by 10% in 2016-2017, and pollution increased at the same rate in the year of 2017-2018. Though pollution increased in 2019 also at the same rate, at the end of 2019; due to some initiatives by the Ministry of Environment, like crackdown against illegal brickfields, stopping the movement without fitness vehicles on the road, air pollution was on decreasing trends. We have observed a decreasing trend of pollution in 2020 and when COVID lockdown started in March-April. But from July-August 2021, the air pollution index had been increased so drastically that the average pollution was at an all-time high breaking all previous records.”

– (Soundbite) Prof Ahmed Kamruzzaman Majumder, Dean of the Department of Science and Chairman of the Department of Environmental Science, Stamford University.

“We used to call PM2.5 (very small particles) which is the average of air pollution index throughout the year. Generally, we cannot see it with the naked eye. The average of PM2.5 for the whole year is 65 micrograms. Our Ministry Environment approves tolerable PM2.5 index is 15 micro-grams. The ongoing huge development activities have created a direct impact on the environment. We have analyzed data of almost 2,000 days from 2016-to 2021. Findings have revealed that out of 2,000 days, we have had 38 days of fresh air. That means 38 days in 6 years; that is less than 7 days per year of fresh air as the guidelines set by the Bangladesh Ministry of Environment.”

– (Soundbite) Mr. Sharif Jamil, the General Secretary of the Bangladesh Paribash Andolon.

“The presence of small particles has increased drastically in the air. It indicates these are coming from construction sites, infrastructural developments and mega projects. The law says that if the AQI index goes above 300, a ‘Hazardous’ status has to be declared. In that situations, if anybody has a respiratory- and lung-related problem, they are warned not to leave their home. The people should also be advised not to go out from home without if not necessary. Our AQI Index goes above 400. We are just living in a gas chamber.”

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