One does not need to be an expert to understand Dhaka’s environmental hazards that have been overwhelming this heaving capital over the years. Pollution and environmental challenges have occupied life and livelihood of the Dhakaities to a greater extent. In Dhaka, with every breath we take in, we inhale a number of poisonous particulates. The city has five rivers, Balu and Sitalakhya on the east, Turag and Buriganga on the west and Dhaleshwari on the south. But Dhaka’s poor waste management system has been polluting the river for a long time. Also Dhaka’s famous traffic, industrial pollution and noise pollution have been overwhelming the environment of Dhaka, a city considered as one of the least liveable in the world.
Experts fear that due to poor management of basic urban and environmental issues, capital Dhaka is going to face more intense environmental hazards in coming days. Hence, city authorities must devise a comprehensive action and strategic plan to address all forms of pollution. Experts blame lack of coordination among stakeholders, ministries and agencies, non-enforcement of laws, lack of sincerity of the government are the main reasons behind such a poor management of the city. With the increasing population growth, the situation is getting worse but no considerable effort has been made to improve it. Only three decades ago, Dhaka had over 50 canals and lakes and was surrounded by four rivers and wetlands. The major part of Dhaka’s drainage system consists of canals, rivers and lakes that help reroute extra water out of the city. Over the years, Dhaka has lost almost all of them. The two main reasons behind the disappearing of canals are the creep of construction and the dumping of massive quantities of garbage from the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Moreover, Dhaka’s air is highly polluted mainly due to brick kilns, unfit vehicles and unusual growth of dust from construction works, rundown roads which are taking heavy toll on the public health. Air pollution used to take nearly 8,000 lives a year just three years back, now it causes death to 84,000 people every year. Air pollution is contributing to the rise of various diseases like lung problems, cancer, respiratory problems etc. Water and soil quality of the city is also degrading due to unplanned urbanisation and Wasa’s poor performance and negligence. It is annoying that the two city corporations and different government bodies also could not play any effective role in checking noise and sound pollution, keeping the city properly clean, controlling traffic jams and visual pollution, maintaining parks, increasing greeneries, saving the rivers and ensuring better transport service.
We, therefore, feel that all the city authorities including two city corporations should devise appropriate plans, ensure good governance and strictly enforce laws to reduce the extreme pollution in Dhaka. It’s time for the policymakers to understand and underscore the need for formulating new policies to improve Dhaka’s toxic environment.