The High Court Division on Sunday directed Department of Environment to explain today how Tk 300 crore provided by the World Bank to curb the capital’s air pollution and train air quality assessment assistants was spent.
A bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and KM Kamrul Kader also directed the Department of Environment to explain how much money was disbursed to control air pollution and how much was spent on training.
The bench also directed the DoE director general to explain what steps were taken to increase DoE’s manpower.
The bench issued the verbal order while hearing a public interest litigation writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh in January 2019.
‘The WB fund was given to whom by the ministry of environment, forests and climate change,’ the court asked the government to explain.
The court said that crores of money of the climate fund was being spent to send government officials to abroad to learn how ponds were dug.
When a Department of Environment said in its report said that it had only one chemist, the court demanded to know, ‘Where are the officials who were sent abroad to learn about climate change.’
The court said that due to visible corruption the judges saw that sidewalks being rebuilt time and again in the capital’s posh areas and in other areas citizens cannot walk as footpaths are not there.
The court also directed the government to submit a list of dishonest businessmen who burn tires to produce oil and make money causing harm to public health and the environment.
The court directed the two mayors of the capital to immediately install fixed water sprayers at importance points of the capital and use super sweepers to prevent dust.
The environment, forest and climate change ministry submitted a report in which it stated that the ministry in complying the court’s November 26 order had formed a high powered committee with 16 experts which identified the causers of air pollution in the capital and made 13 recommendations to reduce the air pollution.
The recommendations include compelling contractors to spray water on the roads around the construction sites by fencing them, prohibiting storage of construction materials on roads immediately on completion of road repairs by the utilities.
The recommendations prohibit burning bitumen and planting grass on the road dividers, removing household waste by house owners before the wastes get dry, use modern sweeping machines instead of brooms, spraying water on roads twice every day and installing fixed water sprayers at important corners, shutting down brick kilns and using block bricks for constructing government buildings, forcing house owners to create own sewerage systems while constructing buildings, and forcing hospital authorities to develop their own medical waste management system.
Appearing for Dhaka North City Corporation lawyer Toufiq Inam Tipu submitted that the DNCC sprayed water on the roads twice a day under as the court had directed in January last year.
But dust cannot be controlled around big construction sites unless the contractors spray water on the roads around their construction sites, he submitted.
Sayeed Ahmed Raza appearing for Dhaka South City Corporation submitted that DSCC also sprayed waters on importance roads in its 36 wards.
Manzill Murshid appearing for HRBP prayed fresh directive to prevent air pollution.
Dhaka city ranked the fourth worst in Air Quality Index (AQI) report released on November 2019, he submitted.
Dhaka had a score of 192 at 8:00am, which means the air quality was ‘unhealthy’.
He submitted that when the AQI value is between 151 and 200, every city dweller might suffer health effects while sensitive people might experience more serious health effects.
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