A cross-section of people share their opinions with New Age Staff Correspondents
Sadiqur Rahman and Rashad Ahamad
Dhaka can be a classic example for uncontrolled and unplanned urbanisation which causes havocs on city people through pollution, congestion, disparity and exclusion in urban fabric.
How Dhaka appears in the global ranking of liveability and other environmental parameters may give an indication of the gravity of Dhaka’s problems.
Dhaka’s air quality has been rated as the fourth most polluted city with one of the lowest quality air in the world with an index value of 195 prepared by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Dhaka is ranked the worst city in the world in traffic index by NUMBEO.
Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka tops the list of the most stressed cities in Asia and seventh in the world according to the UK-based firm, ZIPZET.
As a whole, Dhaka is the second least liveable city in the world according to the annual global survey of Economist Intelligence Unit.
Dhaka has plethora of environmental problems such as solid wastes, water, air, sewage and noise pollution.
By and large, public health of common people in the Dhaka city is in great jeopardy which is often reflected by outbreak of infectious disease like chikunguniya and dengue.
The quantity of solid wastes generated in Dhaka city is very high due to its high population density.
A Waste Concern study found that nearly 4,500 tonnes of household wastes are generated daily in Dhaka city.
For lack of coordination and proper management of garbage disposal facilities, these wastes are not collected on a regular basis.
Unplanned dumping of wastes is also responsible for both health hazards and visual pollution in city.
The major sources of noise pollution in urban areas are traffic and loud horns.
In Dhaka, the average sound level is 80-110dB in prime areas such as Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Shahbagh and Gabtoli – which is almost twice the maximum allowable noise level.
The increase in polluting effluents from industries, and municipal as well as other wastes is having profound negative impacts on rivers around Dhaka city.
Wastes from industries are usually connected to the sewerage system that directly flows to the rivers around the city and these rivers have become a dumping ground of all kinds of waste.
Polluted water of the Buriganga, Turag, Balu, and Narai rivers flowing around the greater Dhaka city is posing serious threats to people and ecosystem as well.
We have a set of laws and policies regarding environment, water and other built environment factors.
Wetland conservation Act 2000 has not been able to protect the flood flow zone and water-bodies of Dhaka city and its adjacent areas.
It is not the Act or law that are responsible for the fate of common people and their environment, rather the implementation of laws and policies that are important here for safeguarding nature, environment and ecosystem of the city and its peripheral areas.
Lack of good-governance among all urban local bodies responsible for delivering basic services and facilities are the main factor behind the deterioration of built and natural environment of Dhaka city.
Planning authorities like city corporations, development authorities and other urban bodies are not working in an integrated way to combat these manifold problems generated from various types and levels of pollutions that the city people are experiencing in their day to day life.
We often hear the term ‘city governance’ for more independent, coordinated and functional planning for cities and communities in this mega city.
But there is no realistic probability of a ‘city government’ in the current structure of government or in the current political thinking process of political parties.
For the revival of environment and landscape of Dhaka city, urban authorities should work on communities at ward level, engaging common people in planning and development processes.
Mega projects and mega investments without integrated approach of problem solving failed to address problems of Dhaka city.
Rather, more priorities should be given to the consideration of the impacts of development initiatives on local communities and common people.
Creating community space and recreational space at ward and community level is important for improving urban environment and quality of life of people.
Hence urban authorities, CBOs, NGOs and all other stakeholders should work in an integrated manner to improve the quality of environment as well as quality of life for people of Dhaka city and for achieving the broader goal of sustainability and inclusiveness, community and people should be in the centre of all planning efforts.
The surrounding places of my residence at Green Road of Dhanmandi are covered with dust most of the daytime. Like the other localities, sound pollution is very common here.
Drivers of vehicles plying around the particular residential area always exceed the legal limit of sound making 55 decibel while hooking unnecessarily. The inhabitants cannot sleep well at night.
Dhaka city people living in the unplanned residential facilities cannot breathe fresh air as well as get morning sunlight, the crucial living ingredients for good health.
The multi-storeyed residential buildings are constructed narrowly. The apartment residents throw domestic wastes, food items, rags and scraps at the narrow space between two buildings.
At times, these objects rot as the place remains unclean for days. Mosquito and rodents carrying infectious germs easily can breed in such filthy places.
We all know about the consequences of mosquito menace as the number of dengue and chikungunia patients is increasing in Dhaka.
There are a number of health clinics in Dhanmandi. Inhabitants of the area do not know whether the medical wastes are removed properly or not.
As a medical practitioner, I can say that dust-driven air pollution causes respiratory diseases like allergy in the airway, respiratory distress, bronchitis, asthma, exaggeration of chronic bronchial asthma, chronic cough, wheezing and infectious disease like tuberculosis.
In addition, the suspended dust particles get deposited in the lung. Cumulative effect of the deposition of dust may cause total functional failure of the lung.
Dust pollution affects the children’s lung severely. They will suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia and allergic respiratory disorder if they inhale dust on a regular basis.
High noise irritates the total nervous system of human body. Our heart gets tired with the increase of heart and pulse beat. Meanwhile, irritation of the nervous system causes hypertension, insomnia, personality-disorder, loss of concentration and fluctuation of mode.
We know that these types of nervous irritation and stress are directly linked to heart disease, diabetic, thyroid disorder, gastric and ulcer.
I think Dhaka city is getting polluted much for the mismanagement of waste. Haphazard dumping of waste is causing bad smell and contaminating water sources. It also is polluting the air.
Behavioural change of the city people is the most important thing for the management of wastes.
City corporation sets containers for wastes but most people dump their household wastes outside the bins. If people are not aware and do not change their habit and become loyal to the law, how can we bring them under discipline?
Yes, we can enforce law. Enforcement of law is not the ultimate solution. Here, the government has many problems.
I agree, law implementation is important but awareness and mental change among people is the most important to stop pollution which affects everyone in the city.
Unfit vehicles are polluting the air as vehicles emit black smock in the air. Traffic jam also increases air pollution and creates sound pollution.
In a ward, all the reasons for pollutions are interconnected. Thus solution to this problem should be integrated.
Individuals or an institute or only the government can hardly change the situation without an integrated and pragmatic action plan. I would like to request all to come forward to build this city for their next generation.
Awareness of environment pollution, education, implementation of law and installation of facilities at a time is important to check pollution.
Some people are aware and they have the scope not to pollute environment but they continue it. I think this group of people should be punished.
Rickshaw puller do not care private car and other motorised vehicles and they do make way for them without repeated horn honking, which creates sound pollution.
There are some other sources of pollution too in my wards no 31, 33 and 34. Small industries and construction wastes also pollute air in the areas while lack of sewerage treatment also contaminates water bodies.
Dhaka is no longer a liveable city due to its pollutions. A number of reports show that many people die in the city for different types of pollutions. Particularly air pollution is very acute in Dhaka for different causes.
Brickfields surrounding Dhaka is the main cause of air pollution while automobiles and dust are also important causes of the pollution among others.
The second severe pollution involves water. Four rivers surrounding Dhaka with more than 50 canals — all the water bodies are getting polluted. Mainly mismanagement of solid wastes by the city corporations is responsible for water pollution.
Dhaka WASA on the other hand has failed to treat human sludge before dumping them in water sources.
I think the main cause of all the pollution in Dhaka is its unplanned development with excessively high density. Dhaka may not be a pollution-free city but it can surely be a liveable city.
It is possible if the government agencies function properly and city people come forward to check pollution.
The Department of Environment should take strict steps against polluters. Both Dhaka city corporations should take pragmatic actions to collect waste and dump them properly.
The government should introduce more environment-friendly public transport to reduce pollution from automobiles. Dhaka WASA should implement its master plan on sewerage treatment.
The government must ensure well road connectivity to reduce traffic jam, introduce environment-friendly public vehicle and it also can control waste generation. The government might make the producers reduce waste volume.
Greenery and ponds are two important components for keeping a city less polluted. The government should emphasise greenery and water body protection following the structure of an ideal city.
Dhaka is getting polluted in various ways including mismanagement of wastes, running of faulty vehicles, harmful industries without proper management and lack of greenery.
Sometimes it seems to me that people do not love their city and dump waste haphazardly on the roads and drains causing severe sufferings to people because of bad smell.
Our water bodies are being polluted by sewerage lines and discharge of untreated industrial wastes into them.
The government should enforce law against the polluters and city people should change themselves to get a pollution-free city.
Ensure your waste dumping in designated spots. It is our responsibility to manage them.
The government should not allow any factory which could cause air, water and sound pollution in any residential area. It may allow factories at safe distance with proper safety measures.
As a local government agency, Dhaka South City Corporation is active in this regard. DSCC has initiated relocating all chemical industries and tanneries have already been relocated from city.
In my area sound pollution and air pollution are two major problems. Air pollution is caused by black smoke from faulty vehicle and sound pollution from horns of vehicles.
The government should ban all high sound horns. This is the government’s duty.
As a citizen, I believe vehicles can run without horn. There are a number of bus stops at Azimpur which have been set up illegally on roads. I have informed the authorities and they have promised to take actions against them.
Moreover, public awareness and initiatives by the authorities are needed to stop pollution in the city. I think it is a must for us and for our future generation.
We should ensure a green environment for our children with enough space for creative activities.
Inhabitants of Mohammadpur area, where I reside, suffer most due to poor drainage system which spreads different types of pollution.
The city corporation’s waste management is not up to the mark. People are also irresponsible as they use to dump domestic wastes haphazardly.
Commonly, we do not carry bag while shopping kitchen items from the neighbouring markets.
Hence, we, the consumers, promote free marketing of the non-biodegradable poly bags when we know that haphazard dumping of poly bags causes water-logging during the monsoon.
Meat traders are equally responsible for polluting the environment by slaughtering cattle in the narrow streets and they in many cases do not bother to wash the place properly. Rotten residues of the slaughtered cattle often overflow the drains and spread bad odour.
My residence is near the River Buriganga, a source of bad odour. Despite relocation of the tannery industries, the river is still getting polluted every day by industrial effluents and dumped domestic and municipal waste.
The green campaigners for long have been trying to build public awareness of the typical environmental pollution. I think they do not succeed in their movement satisfactorily for lack of proper campaigning.
The lax enforcement of environment law prompts citizen to intensify their role in polluting the surroundings. Habitually, we do not show much interest to clean our environment. Obviously, the behavioural type is not congenial to keep the environment clean.
I think the green campaigns should keep going until the whole condition does not change. Media can play a very crucial role in building public awareness about the hazardous consequences of human-made pollution.
With strict enforcement of environment law, the government also should promote the biodegradable alternatives of plastic bag.
Public nuisance in littering their surroundings with domestic wastes as well as spiting here and there irritates me.
Sound pollution with busy traffic movement disturbs the inhabitants of Pashchim Rajabazaar in Farmgate area whole day and night.
People are reluctant to keep their surroundings clean as they do not see the immediate effects of environment pollution.
An individual is not willing to practise environmental cleanliness initially due to lack of such culture in society. Lack of environment law enforcement also discourages the less conscious citizen to maintain clean environment.
I do not think that cleanliness campaign among the schoolchildren merely can bring positive results.
At first, the adult should show some inspiring acts like dumping waste at the designated place, no littering, cleaning households on a regular basis and something like these.
Seeing the elder family members maintaining cleanliness, children will learn practicing it.
I visited four countries – Malaysia, South Korea, Sri Lanka and India. In the first three countries, I witnessed citizen promoting cleanliness by themselves.
The fear of being fined by the authorities concerned for littering the surrounding though discourages people to defy the law.
Even in some parts of India, where tourists go frequently, the local citizens maintain cleanliness so that the image of the locality does not go bad.
Due to common sense, people do not litter a clean place. Many rural and sub-urban people travel to Dhaka every day.
They would keep the capital city clean if it is seen clean to them. Hence, the permanent residents of Dhaka, by ardent efforts, should first do something to keep the city clean.
We are living in such a densely populated city where citizens hardly can have scope to develop stewardship.
Visiting some developed country, we would see how the local people decorate their surroundings.
For an example, Thai authorities plant mango trees beside the roads as the leaves of the particular tree absorb dust.
In Dhaka where air pollution by dust is rampant, people lacking the sense of belongingness frequently spit here and there. They do not have any idea that germs from their spit will infect the others.
People lack urbanism despite the government expands urbanisation. They even do not bother about sustainable urbanisation.
This is a very common scene that pedestrians or car riders throw chips packets or water bottle haphazardly ignoring the consequences of their faulty acts.
I think the citizens, although share the benefits of development, do not own it. Citizen’s negligence in keeping the city clean furthermore multiples the environmental pollutions.
Well-planned tree plantation certainly will reduce air pollution in Dhaka. There are three or four government wings including city corporations, which manage the existing tree plantation project in the
I have found that the projects lack proper coordination. That’s why tree species are not planted in the right place. A healthy tree has dust and sound absorbing ability.
Hence, a sapling needs proper care for its healthy growth. Unfortunately, the unplanned tree plantation and lack of caring has left most of the plantation project futile.
Currently I am working with primary school students aiming to grow them as tree lovers.
If the concerned adults can provide guidance as well as impart the crucial lessons of urbanism among the children, they can make the city liveable for all.
I hope they will be good citizens someday and able to redesign the city with proper knowledge on the urban management.
Water pollution is acute at Adabar and Shekhertek in Shaymoli. During dry season, dirt contamination increases as the dwellers are compelled to extract water from illegal WASA supply lines.
Often the water contains filthy objects, insects and dirt. Sometimes we get water mixed with gaseous substances harmful for human skin. The area is also a hub of shanties for the working class people.
Very few of them boil the water before drinking. Hence, water-borne diseases are common here.
Sound pollution has become a terrific disturbance affecting the Shyamoli dwellers.
Bus stops are maintained at very short intervals in the Shymoli Ring Road area that creates traffic congestion as well as increases unnecessary hooking. Residents at the roadside building cannot have sound sleep even at night.
My senior neighbours suffering from heart weakness often complain that their health condition is getting worse due to the noise.
Construction of high-rise buildings in the area also intensifies the already noisy environment.
Commonly, noise is created by brick crushers, tiles cutting, mortar mixing and welding. Constructors do not bother about the consequences of sound pollution.
Although, the existing environmental laws forbid sound pollution in the residential area, influential constructors hardly follow them for lack of law enforcement.
There is no secondary transfer station for waste at Adabor and Shekhertek. Household waste collectors pile the wastes beside the roads at regular intervals and burn them twice in a day.
The burning of wastes creates huge black smoke and pollute the air. Locals inhaling the air suffer from burning sensation of eyes, chronic coughing, yawning and asthma.
Readymade garments industry is mushrooming in the underground of high-rise buildings in the area.
Use of high-power generator creating deafening noise is rampant. Often the industrial effluents contaminate the area’s water sources.