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Pollution in Bangladesh

The article reports that there is a draft for noise pollution control law that the government has not yet paid enough importance to in spite of its urgency. The law proposes a fine of Taka 10,000 and a maximum imprisonment of six months for producing noise higher than the permissible limits. The Society for Assistance of Hearing Impaired Children (SAHIC) conducted a sample survey over a year long survey on 21 spots of Dhaka city. 76. % of the people covered in the survey had their hearing damaged due to sound pollution.

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Another survey on 20 spots conducted by a private university and an NGO reveals that the sound level at residential areas with academic institutions and hospitals are alarmingly high at 75decibles compared to the permissible level of 45decibles. Near the Oxford International School in Dhanmondi it was 86decibles and near Birdem Hospital and Viqarunnessa Noon School it was 76decibles. At the exclusive residential area at Kylanpur it is 80decibles and in some areas the condition is worse off.

Noise pollution can cause blood pressure, palpitation, loss of concentration, headache, irritability, insomnia and other physical or mental sickness. The article also mentions that the major sources of noise pollution is the ceaseless honking, indiscriminate use of loud speakers by vendors and others and industrial activities in residential areas. A comprehensive legislation and its attentive enforcement can help bring relief to the citizen of Dhaka. Article:2 Down in the Dumps Syed Zain Al-Mahmood The Daily Star July 23, 2010

Dhaka has a waste disposal problem of biblical proportions. Every day the nearly 11 million people of Dhaka city produce around 3,500 tons of solid waste. Dhaka City Corporation, which is understaffed and cash strapped, can only collect half of the garbage while the rest is left to rot in the heat and humidity in different parts of the capital. Matuail is Dhaka’s garbage dump – a rotting, stinking mountain of waste. The majority of the trash that does get collected ends up at the massive Matuail dump, a 50-acre pile of debris that is already nearing capacity.

According to Waste Concern (a Bangladeshi NGO), 80 percent of the city’s waste is comprised of organic matter, and the rotten garbage releases copious amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more destructive than carbon dioxide. The authorities can be criticized for dumping all these wastes on open landfill as the release of harmful gases are causing pollution and creating health hazards. The article also holds up the story of a family, like many others, who depend on this trash as a source of food and recyclables.

Such families are severely vulnerable to health risks. Moreover, seeking to open landfill dumping on the two sites of this mega-city, Matuail and Aminbazar is not a sustainable solution as both the sites are nearing capacity. However, social entrepreneurs (like Waste Concern) today are looking towards waste as a resource. The transformation of trash to fertilizer is solving two problems at once. This way a value is added to the waste itself and is being used to address the need of farmers to get a cheap organic way to support crops and reinvigorate their top soil.

It also gives a formal employment to the ‘rag pickers’ of the city. Waste Concern initially set up a number of community-based composting centres in the city and launched a fleet of rickshaw vans taking waste to the collection centres from households that pay a small fee to have their overflowing bins emptied. Soon, the “rag pickers” of Dhaka were getting formal employment. The first plant at Bhulta, near Narayangonj, has opened, handling 130 tonnes a day, and three more are planned. Article:3 Sustainable Environment: Challenges Ahead Pinaki Roy

Deputy Chief Reporter The Daily Star 20th Anniversary Special, Part VI Thursday, March 31, 2011 The article starts on the note that out of all the things that need urgent attention of the Bangladesh government, the pollution scenario of the country is a top priority. In order to make this country livable for the next generation, the key challenge is to improve the environmental conditions. The population of the country has been doubled since the country was independent in 1971. But country’s overall environment had been ruined manifold during this time.

The quality of soil has deteriorated due to excessive use of agrochemicals, unplanned land use, undesirable encroachment on forest areas for agriculture to grow more crops to meet the demands of growing population. In the last four decades the country experienced a massive environmental degradation as different economic development activities took place here. Now Bangladesh is a name first to be uttered at any international forum as the combination of country’s geographic location, climate and size of population making it a showcase of vulnerability caused by the global warming. For Bangladesh the climate change is not a threat anymore.

It is a reality here. Many say, Bangladesh has already become the showcase of impacts of climate change, the biggest challenge ever faced in the history of mankind. We demand compensations from the developed nation as they have emitted carbons into the atmosphere and caused global warming. But, what about our practice at home? What actions are taken against the polluters who have polluted all our surface waters by dumping liquid waste? How much the people of this country did really care about this environment in the last decade? The policy makers, the politicians need to wake up urgently.

The Polluted and Dried Rivers Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) recently made a checklist of the country’s rivers where they have enlisted 312 rivers. Not very long ago, the water transport was the main mode of transport especially to carry goods. There was as long as 24,000 km of river routes in the country what comes down to 6000 km now due to loss of navigability. Heavy extraction of water and sedimentation have caused the flow of water to decrease, hence adding problems to navigability. The dams and barrages in the upstream built by the Indian government has also been a major cause for this problem.

Heavy industrialization in the urban areas and the land grabbers filling up the rivers and canals around the city have caused significant levels of pollution in the last two decades. Industrial pollution accounts for more than 60 percent of the organic pollution load in Dhaka for unplanned industrialization clusters located along the major rivers. The pollution is so severe in some areas that the pollutant toxic chemicals are reaching the groundwater table in some areas. The failure of Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authorities (WASA) has induced the city dwellers to link their sanitary connection with the storm sewerage nderground pipe lines resulting in the dumpling of excreta into the city’s rivers. The pollution level is so severe that the Buriganga, Sitalakhya, Turag the main three rivers in the capital becomes are biologically dead during the dry season. Forest and Wildlife The official forest coverage of Bangladesh is around 17 percent as against 25 percent, the general standard that a country should maintain. The forests were razed to the ground in the last decades for collection of timbers, cultivation and to use the forest land for other purposes.

Adoptions of wrong policies by the government and corruption by foresters have nearly eaten away most of the natural forests. In addition, rubber monoculture, commercial fuel-wood plantations, grazing, urbanization, and expanding agriculture have drastically reduced Bangladesh’s natural forest. This mangrove supports a unique assemblage of flora and fauna, including charismatic megafauna like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Estuarine Crocodile and the Ganges River Dolphin. The Sundri tree, after which the Sundarban is named, is an endemic species of this forest. Arsenic Contamination

Ground water arsenic contamination in Bangladesh is reported to be the biggest arsenic calamity in the world in terms of the proportion of the population affected. In the 1990s it was discovered that many of the shallow tube wells were contaminated by arsenic, a poison that occurs naturally in Bangladesh’s alluvial soil. The people in 59 out of 64 districts comprising 126,134 square km of Bangladesh are suffering due to the arsenic contamination in drinking water. Seventy five million people are at risk and 24 million are potentially exposed to arsenic contamination.

Most of the recognized stages of arsenic poisoning have been identified in Bangladesh and the risk of arsenic poisoning in the population is increasing every day. Waterborne diseases such as cholera are a serious threat to public health in Bangladesh. Until the 1970s, many of Bangladesh’s people became sick from drinking polluted water drawn from surface rivers. The World Bank estimates that 25 percent of the country’s four million wells may be contaminated by arsenic. In 1998 the World Bank granted Bangladesh a $32. 4 million credit to identify contaminated wells and develop alternative sources of safe drinking water.

Air Pollution Air pollution has emerged as a serious problem mainly in the capital. Though the gaseous pollutants have been reduced than before, the capital’s air pollution level round the year remains three to four times higher than the national standard. In every cubic meter, 65 microgram of particles of 2. 5 micron and 150 microgram of particles of 10 micron are the standard levels for Bangladesh. According to the Department of Environment (DoE), the density of airborne particulate matter (PM) reaches 463 micrograms per cubic meter (mcm) in the city during December-March period – the highest level in the world.

Mexico City and Mumbai follow Dhaka with 383 and 360mcm respectively. An estimated 15,000 premature deaths, as well as several million cases of pulmonary, respiratory and neurological illness are attributed to poor air quality in Dhaka, according to the Air Quality Management Project (AQMP), funded by the government and the World Bank. Article:4 Pollution of Rivers around Dhaka Mohammad Tareq Hassan The Daily Star Saturday, September 10, 2011 Dhaka is one of the most congested cities of the world with a population of over 15million.

This rapidly growing city is located on the northern bank of the river Buriganga and surrounded by other rivers, namely, the Turag to the west, the Tongi Khal to the north and the Balu to the east. The reasons why these rivers act as a support system to the mega city are because they provide: * A drainage system * Drinking water * Different kinds of fishes * Waterways for travelling The haphazard planning of the capital city and the rapid increase of population and industrial growth around the region is resulting into unmanageable polluting effluents.

In turn, the polluted waters of the rivers are posing increasing threats to the living organisms including humans residing by the rivers. The river water around Dhaka has been altered from its natural state in terms of physical, chemical and microbiological composition and now it is unsuitable for any safe or beneficial use. The signs of contamination are: * bad taste of water * offensive odors * unchecked growth of aquatic weeds * decrease in the number of aquatic animals * floating of oil and grease * coloration of water and so on

The major sources of such pollution are: * discharge of untreated industrial effluent * urban wastewater * agrochemicals * sewage water * solid waste dumping * oil spillage * sedimentation * encroachment Over the last couple of decades, Dhaka has seen major industrialization in sectors such as dyeing, washing and textiles. It has been estimated that there are about 7,000 industries in Dhaka metropolitan area, located mostly in three clusters: Harazaribagh, Tejgaon and  Dhaka- Narayanganj- Demra dam area. The dyeing factories and tanneries are the main polluters of the rivers.

In most cases, these rivers have been dumping grounds for all soild, liquid and other chemical wastes. Dhaka is in need of some systematic waste management. Dhaka generates around 0. 4 to 0. 7 kilograms of solid waste per capita per day but the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC), the main agency responsible for collection, transportation and disposal of the waste cannot manage the task properly with its existing limited logistics. The per capita waste collected in Dhaka per day is 0. 2 kilograms. The waste which is not managed by the DCC is dumped into the rivers by the people living near the river banks.

Furthermore, liquid waste produced in the city is being poured in the rivers untreated. Of the discharged untreated liquid waste, 61 percent is industrial and 39 percent domestic. The only sewerage treatment plant (SWP) situated in Pagla, Narayanganj can only treat 10% of the industrial waste produced. On top, the oil and other chemicals which are spilled into the rivers from launches, steamers, and trawlers are also polluting river water. Besides in Dhaka contamination of water is occurring from human excreta as well, as 70 percent of the population of the city does not have access to improved sanitation facilities.

Encroachment is a common practice in Bangladesh. This is causing many of the natural drainage of the city to disappear. Many people living near these rivers are left helpless and have to use this polluted water anyways. This causes spread of water borne and skin diseases. Solid waste and different effluents dumped into the rivers make it difficult for fishes and other sub-aquatic organisms to live. When solid waste and effluents run into the river, the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the water rises, creating oxygen crisis for the sub aqueous life.

As the dissolved oxygen (DO) content of the river water is decreased below the critical level of four milligrams per liter it is posing threats to bio-diversity in and around the rivers. The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is supplying stinky water purified by chlorine and ammonia sulfate. Moreover, due to river encroachment and dumping of solid waste into the rivers, the rivers are losing their natural flow. The waterways are shrinking as a consequence. The government has taken many initiatives to solve the problem of the dying rivers around the city. But till now no change is seen, the polluters continue polluting. Article:5

Let’s Breathe ;amp; Move Together for Clean Air Dr Md Rajib Hossain The Daily Star Saturday, October 8, 2011 This article discusses the health hazards due to both indoor and outdoor pollution. The level of air pollution in Bangladesh is six times higher than that recommended by the WHO. The lead content of dust in Dhaka is 10 times higher than the standard level. In a recent annual report by the WHO, it has been stated that the PM10 (an indicator to measure air quality) in Bangladesh is 120µg/m3 with an alarming level of 134µg/m3 in Dhaka and 17µg/m 3 in Chittagong. These are much higher than the WHO recommended level of 20µg/m3.

PM10 particles are particles of 10micrometer or less that are present in air. They penetrate into the lungs and enter the bloodstream causing heart diseases, lung complications, asthma and acute lower respiratory infections. According to the World Bank report, 15000 Bangladeshis lose their lives every year due to health hazards imposed by air pollution. The two stroke automobiles, industrial emissions and bad civic practices are contributing to air pollution in this country. Indoor combustion of solid fuels on open fires or traditional stoves increases the risk of acute lower respiratory infections.

Indoor pollution is even associated with the causes of a high rate of infant mortality. Indoor exposures to dampness, dust mites and fungal allergies may account for 20% of asthma prevalence. The article ends with a note of how air is vital to sustain life and it urges its readers to start a move together for clean air. Report On The Pollution Scenario In Bangladesh For this generation of Bangladeshi people, especially the urban dwellers, it is only a fantasy or a state of utopia to live in an environment where you have fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink and a quiet neighborhood to live in.

This is because Bangladesh has been under the grip of all kinds of pollution such as air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution etc. and the problem only seems to get worse with time. Poverty, over- pollution, noxious emissions and toxic effluents from industries and transportation vehicles coupled with a lack of proper waste management strategy and lax environmental laws are the major causes for environmental degradation in our country. Air Pollution Air pollution has emerged as a serious problem mainly in the rapidly developing cities of Bangladesh.

A filthy haze of mist, auto exhaust and chemicals hang over Dhaka, making it one of the most polluted cities in the world. It makes your eyes water and coats your lungs with lethal soot. The level of air pollution in Bangladesh is six times higher than that recommended by WHO. The lead content of dust in Dhaka is 10 times higher than the standard level. PM10 particles are particles of 10micrometer or less that are present in air. It is used as an indicator to measure air quality.

The PM10 in Bangladesh is 120µg/m3 with an alarming level of 134µg/m3 in Dhaka and 17µg/m 3 in Chittagong. The Polluted and Dried Rivers Not too long ago there were 24,000km of river routes in the country which played a significant role in navigability. But now the water routes have slashed down to a mere 6,000km. History speaks of the importance of rivers and water ways to development as most of the mega cities are built near them.

The reasons why these rivers act as a support system to the mega city are because they provide: * A drainage system * Drinking water Different kinds of fishes * Waterways for travelling Bangladesh was gifted with a natural drainage system, but it got interfered by the rapid expansion of the cities, indiscriminate encroachments and the dams and barrages in the upstream built by the Indian government. Also the rivers are getting polluted by random littering of the public and improper waste management by the government. The natural drainage system was of enormous importance to the people here as the government does not have proper infrastructure to meet demands for waste disposal.

The river water around Dhaka has been altered from its natural state in terms of physical, chemical and microbiological composition and now it is unsuitable for any safe or beneficial use. The signs of contamination are: * bad taste of water * offensive odors * unchecked growth of aquatic weeds * decrease in the number of aquatic animals * floating of oil and grease * coloration of water and so on Dhaka is located in the northern bank of the river Buriganga and surrounded by other important rivers, namely, the Turag to the west, Tongi Khal to the north and the Balu to the east.

Over the last few decades, these few rivers become biologically dead during the winter because of the seasonal lack of the flow of water. What we are left with is a thick, pitch black body of industrial effluents and excreta. Dhaka has seen major industrialization in sectors such as dyeing, washing and textiles. It has been estimated that there are about 7,000 industries in Dhaka metropolitan area, located mostly in three clusters: Harazaribagh, Tejgaon and Dhaka- Narayanganj- Demra dam area. The dyeing factories and tanneries are the main polluters of the rivers.

In most cases, these rivers have been dumping grounds for all soild, liquid and other chemical wastes. Of the discharged untreated liquid waste, 61% is industrial waste and 39% is domestic. The signs of contamination are: * bad taste of water * offensive odors * unchecked growth of aquatic weeds * decrease in the number of aquatic animals * floating of oil and grease * coloration of water and so on When solid waste and effluents run into the river, the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the water rises, creating oxygen crisis for the sub aqueous life. The deadly state of the rivers is nothing new to the people here.

Much has been said and discussed about the problem but a strong corrective measure is yet to be adopted by the government. Till now no change is seen, the polluters continue to pollute and the victims continue to suffer. Inadequate Waste Management The waste management scenario of the country is catastrophic. The rivers are polluted with untreated sewage, plastic and other solid and liquid wastes, the drains along the streets are overflowing, the landfill sites for solid waste disposal are nearing capacity and the people of the country are supplied with insincerely treated water from WASA.

To add to the problem there are the annual floods during the rainy season, irrational littering of people and illegal encroachments of rivers blocking the natural drainage system. The only sewerage treatment plant (SWP) situated in Pagla, Narayanganj can only treat 10% of the industrial waste produced. In Dhaka, 70% of the population of the city does not have access to improved sanitation facilities.

WASA is supplying stinky water to the city dwellers simply purifying them with chlorine or ammonium sulfate. Dhaka generates around 0. 4 to 0. kilograms of solid waste per capita per day but the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) collects 0. 2 kilograms per capita per day of waste as they use the excuse of being under staffed and cash strapped. Every day, nearly 11mn people of Dhaka produce around 35,000 tons of solid waste and DCC collects only half of it. These wastes are disposed off in the two main open landfill sites around the city, Matuail and Aminbazar. Unfortunately, these sites are nearing capacity and the authority has a severe lack of long term planning. Those who are beyond the range of DCC’s waste management dump their daily waste into the rivers.

The failure of WASA has influenced people to link their sanitary connection with the storm sewerage pipe lines which goes directly to the rivers such as Buriganga polluting it to a point where the historic river is dying. Noise Pollution The menace of sound pollution has the city dwellers in its grip. The problem seems to get worse every day provided noise pollution control law is yet to be reinforced. The exponentially increasing number of cars does not seem to change their unnecessary honking which is often triggered by the tiresome traffic jam and the resulting hurry of drivers to reach their destination.

Also, the sudden appearance of factories in a residential area and the indiscriminate use of loud speakers by vendors and others are causing noise pollution. A survey conducted by an NGO and a private university shows that the sound level at residential areas with academic institutions and hospitals are alarmingly high at 75decibles compared to the permissible level of 45decibles. Near the Oxford International School in Dhanmondi it was 86decibles and near Birdem Hospital and Viqarunnessa Noon School it is 76decibles.

At the exclusive residential area at Kylanpur it is 80decibles and in some areas the condition is worse off. Arsenic Contamination Till now only those pollution sources were being discussed which are caused by human’s sincerity or lack of knowledge. But arsenic is a poison that occurs naturally in Bangladesh’s alluvial soil. The people in 59 out of 64 districts are affected by drinking ground water which is contaminated by arsenic. The World Bank estimates that 25% of the tube wells in Bangladesh out of a total of 4mn may be contaminated by arsenic.

The government, WB and various NGOs are working to identify such tube wells and install new ones which deliver safe water. Although progress is made in battling arsenic contamination, a large portion of the rural population still remains at risk. Health Effects of Pollution Air pollution can be held responsible for respiratory infections and a high rate of infant mortality in our country. An estimated 15,000 premature deaths, several million cases of pulmonary, respiratory and neurological illness are attributed to the poor quality of air in Bangladesh.

Many people who live near the polluted rivers are forced to use the contaminated water, although in some places the waters are completely unworthy of any sort of use. These people are vulnerable to various water borne diseases (such as cholera, dysentery and life threatening diarrhea) and skin diseases. Noise pollution can cause high blood pressure, palpitation, loss of concentration, headache, irritability and other physical and mental sickness. Arsenic water if used for drinking purpose may cause nausea, diarrhea, discoloration and thickening of skin, abdominal pain, blood vessel damage and skin rash.

What pollution actually does is that it shortens the longevity of a person. This generation and the generation after that are subjected to more sickness and a lower life expectancy. The lack of systematic waste management and the irrational pollution by the public is also causing an irritation, a general discomfort to their life style. You breathe dirty air, use dirty roads and drink smelly, unhygienic water. The question here is not just about the health impacts, but how the pollution scenario is affecting the average standard of living of the people if Bangladesh. A Small Ray of Hope: Using Waste as a Resource

While writing this report on the pollution scenario there was one single ray of hope that emerged from the pile of disappointments and failures. While the city battles to figure out how to manage and get rid of the unwanted waste, Waste Concern, a Bangladeshi NGO, has introduced a way to add value to waste and use it as a resource. This young group of social entrepreneurs is using household waste to produce fertilizer. This is solving two problems at once. The unwanted waste is put to use and the farmers need for a cheap organ way to support their crops and reinvigorate their top soil is met.

Also, this project is creating employment. Waste Concern initially set up a number of community-based composting centres in the city and launched a fleet of rickshaw vans taking waste to the collection centres from households that pay a small fee to have their overflowing bins emptied. Soon, the “rag pickers” of Dhaka were getting formal employment. The first plant at Bhulta, near Narayangonj, has opened, handling 130 tons a day, and three more are planned. Concluding Remarks In the absence of a vision, the country is falling into a situation of deep concern.

The capital city has already lapsed into a pile of filth and congestion and the country is on its way to degrade almost all the rich and abundant natural resources that it had been gifted with. Now, Bangladesh’s name comes on top while discussing the worldwide impacts of environmental degradation. Surely, we are suffering for the carbons that the highly developed and developing nations are emitting into the atmosphere that we all share. And it is well justified to demand for compensations for the global warming that they are the major contributors of.

But what about the practices at home? Are the people and the government prepared enough with strategies and the determination to battle the pollution scenario in Bangladesh? Has much not already been said about indiscriminate littering and management of industrial waste? How many people in our own country are ready to put use of the common knowledge of pollution and disciplineto self regulate pollution to whatever extent they can? What actions are being taken against the polluters who polluted all our surface water with liquid and even solid waste?

In the previous decade, people had the luxury to degrade the environment and use resources irresponsibly as they were abundant. The existing generation is going to have to pay for the consequences. And although, the pollution scenario has to be urgently addressed neither the government nor the industrialist or the people who have the power to make a difference are coming forward. “Shall we surrender to our surroundings or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land and to our water? ” Richard Nixon (1913-1994), 37th President of the United States A satellite image of pollution in Bangladesh

This photo shows how a boatman struggles to navigate through the heavily polluted Buriganga. Pollution and oil spillage inthe ship breaking yard in Chittagong Water pollution as newly dyed clothes are washed directly on the river WASA leaves the excavated passage unfilled on Mirpur- Duaripara only to add to the woes of people Polybags bounce back despite ban. The photo shows how garbage, including polybags occupies a significant portion of the road causing traffic difficulties in a road in Madhya Badda.

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