Along with climate change, air pollution is also responsible for the ongoing intense heatwaves across the country. But no significant initiative is being taken to reduce air pollution in the country. Rather, an unacceptable and controversial Air Pollution (Control) Regulation has been undertaken without enacting a comprehensive clean air act.
Environmental experts said this at a press conference organized after the publication of the research report at the National Press Club on Saturday (April 15).
In the press conference organized by Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) and Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) titled ‘Avoidance of dualistic policies is essential to reduce air pollution’, the report titled ‘Global Air Situation-2019’ was highlighted and said that at least 1.23 lakh people died in the country in 2017 due to air pollution. Air pollution accounts for 20 percent of premature deaths in the country. Currently, air pollution has increased to such an extent that it not only affects the human body, but also upsets the mental state. Therefore, if effective steps are not taken to prevent pollution at this moment, the present and future generations will have to face a lot of damage due to air pollution.
Taking part in the discussion, General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) Sharif Jamil said the policies, laws and regulations of all the countries of the world are formulated in the public interest. But in case of Bangladesh, the picture is opposite. In many cases, laws and policies are framed in favor of certain groups, ignoring public interest through corruption. A recent such egregious example is the enactment of an unacceptable air pollution control regulation without enacting a comprehensive clean air act. He demanded to cancel the controversial rules and pass the integrated clean air act quickly. He called for building a collective social movement for the environment.
In the press conference, CAPS founding director Dr Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder said Bangladesh was at the top position in terms of air pollution in 2020 and 2019 and the capital Dhaka was second in terms of pollution among the capital cities of the world. Recently, environmental pollution has reached such a level that various towns of the country are becoming uninhabitable.
Air pollution is responsible for heatwave, Professor Kamruzzaman said, pointing out that due to the fact that dust particles and polluted gases are able to absorb the heat, currently most polluted dust particles and gaseous substances are playing a role in creating heatwave by absorbing the sun’s temperature. Besides, Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide play a role in increasing the temperature. So, it is important to reduce air pollution to decrease the rise in temperature.
Advocate Monjil Morshed, President of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) commented that the environmental court is getting bold verdicts like never before. He said the court is wasting time in various ways. Parliament is also not making laws in public interest. Businessmen are the majority in Parliament. They are mainly responsible for environmental pollution. As a result, who is influencing the law making. In this situation, people have no option but to wake up and start a movement.
In the president’s speech, the former vice-chancellor of Stamford University, Professor Mohammad Ali Naqi, said, “We are committed internationally to reduce air pollution, but contrary laws are being passed in various policies, which is very worrying. The whole matter needs to be explained in simple terms for which public awareness is very important. In this case, universities and educational institutions should come forward. At the same time, journalists and media should try.”