High Court orders report on measures to curb Dhaka air pollution

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-11-25 02:15:08 BdST

A thick layer of dust covers the air of Road No. 27 in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi as sewerage repair work drags on. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

The High Court has asked the authorities what steps they have taken on the nine directives it had issued early this year to curb air pollution in Dhaka.

The bench of Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Mohammad Ali ordered the authorities on Tuesday to submit a report on the measures within 30 days after hearing a supplementary writ petition.

 It came amid concerns of experts over rising air pollution that is threatening to jeopardise the efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak.

“The amount of dust in air increases naturally during winter. Recent media reports said air pollution may raise the risk of death from COVID-19,” said Manzill Murshid, the lawyer for the petitioner, the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.

Murshid said he added the media reports to the supplementary writ petition. The rights group filed the original petition in January 2019.

After initial hearing the same month, the High Court ordered the Department of Environment to conduct mobile court drives twice a week in Dhaka city to take action against air polluters.

The court also issued a rule asking why the administration’s inactivity on curbing air pollution in Dhaka city should not be declared unlawful and why an order should not be issued to take action to limit such pollution.

The court ordered barricades to be set up at all development and renovation projects in Dhaka city within the next 15 days.

It ordered water to be sprayed twice a day in any area where such development and renovation work is underway and which may be affected by their dust and debris.

It also instructed the director general of the Department of Environment, the mayors and executive officers of the two Dhaka City Corporations to submit a report on the issue.

In November last year, when the petitioner sought five directives to curb air pollution, the court ordered the government to form a high-powered committee headed by the environment secretary for the formulation of guidelines to curb air pollution in and around the city. 

The court issued the nine directives in January this year when the petitioner sought 13 directives.

Besides the previous orders, the directives included seizure of vehicles that emit black smoke beyond the permissible level, transportation of construction materials and garbage in covered vehicles and closure of illegal brickfields in and around the city.