The Environment, Forest and Climate Change ministry has recently prepared the draft of the ‘Air Pollution Control Rules, 2021’ with the objective of preventing, controlling and reducing air pollution to protect the environment and public health.
The Rules were drafted as per Section 20 of the ‘Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995’.
An official of the ministry said that they finalized the draft of the ‘Air Pollution Control Rules, 2021’ keeping most of the points presented by the Department of Environment ( DoE), BELA and the BUET as well.
He said that the ‘Air Pollution Control Rules, 2021’ will be formulated soon after the completion of the necessary process.
The draft Rules cover various issues for controlling air pollution and prevent the sources of the creation of dust.
As per the draft ‘Air Pollution Control Rules, 2021’, the DoE’s Director General (DG) can take steps against industries and activities which are extremely harmful to the environment and public health.
The draft Rules direct the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and other authorities concerned to provide the necessary support to DoE in controlling air pollution. The role of the local government institutions has also been highlighted in the draft Rules.
The draft Rules also lay down the provisions of offence and punishment for air pollution.
Director of WBB Trust Gaous Pearee said the air pollution of Dhaka city and other parts of the country has been increasing in recent years. The air quality must be controlled even through enforcing strict legal action.
She said that the government through the ‘Air Pollution Control Rules, 2021’ would be able to restrict the establishment of new industries or other settlements that will be considered harmful to the air quality, and the authorities concerned will also be able to remove the existing establishments which will be considered as the sources of air pollution.
She, however, said that it would be better if the government moves for the enactment of the ‘Clean Air Act’.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s most polluted countries for particulate matter (PM) in its air, while Dhaka is on the list of world cities with the worst air quality.
Thousands of people die every year in the country due to exposure to both ambient and indoor air pollution as well as air pollution-related diseases.
Officials of the Department of Environment (DoE), public health experts and environmentalists said that the air in Dhaka city, all other divisional cities and some other cities in the country, including Narayanganj and Gazipur, remain highly polluted in the dry season from November to April due to presence of huge dust and other particles in the air.
Talking to the Bangladesh Post, DoE’s Director General, Md Ashraf Uddin said, “Stricter legal measures need to be taken to prevent air pollution in Dhaka and other parts of the country. We are working in this regard. We have already requested the ministry about taking the necessary steps. We hope, the ministry will take necessary initiatives, whether it is the enactment of law or formulation of rules and policy.”
Some initiatives were taken by the DoE and other agencies at different times to improve the air quality in Dhaka and other parts of the country, but the air quality is worsening day by day instead of improving.
The industrial and construction activities, uncontrolled road digging and implementation of unplanned development projects, brick-kilns, and activities of other small and medium enterprises, lack of central management system and lack of coordination among government agencies are responsible for the air pollution.
Against this backdrop, the experts and the environmentalists presented a proposal of ‘Clean Air Act’ to the government. Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) prepared the draft law and presented it to the DoE two years ago.
The draft suggested the Department of Environment (DoE) for preparing a time-bound National Air Quality Management Plan.
The draft also proposed constituting a 29-member advisory council with representatives from different ministries and departments, to oversee and make recommendations to implement the plan.
It also suggested the provision of a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment or fine or both as the punishment for violating the law. It was mentioned in the draft that if an offence is committed by any government agency, its head will be considered guilty of violating the law, and liable to face punishment accordingly.
BELA’s chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said that they prepared the draft law following DoE’s request. The draft law was prepared in order to improve the air quality in the country, especially in Dhaka city and its surrounding areas.
he Department of Environment accepted the draft of the ‘Clean Air Act’ and the Environment, Forest and Climate Change ministry uploaded the draft on its website for public opinion.