Public transports stressed to improve city air qualityAdmin
Experts and officials concerned on Saturday stressed the need for increasing volume of public transport for improving both air quality and traffic management in the capital.
They also expressed concerns over the growing dependence on private transport in the city.
They were speaking at a media briefing session on ‘the challenge of urban air quality and mobility management’ organised jointly by New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment and the Forum of Environment Journalists of Bangladesh at the CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka.
The media briefing, chaired by former environment secretary Sabiuddin Ahmed, was addressed, among others, by CSE’s researcher Anumita Roy Chowdhury and department of environment’s scientific officer Golam Sarwar.
Several papers highlighting different issues on air quality and traffic management of the Dhaka city vis-à-vis New Delhi were present in the media briefing.
Most of the speakers in the briefing concurred that the Dhaka city needed immediate actions including scaling up of public transport, integrated multi-modal transport options, restriction on car and developing walking habit for clean air.
They said although Dhaka had reported drop in air pollution levels, more recent information shows reversal of the trend as levels of key pollutants take a u-turn.
Department of environment’s scientific officer Golam Sarwar said the brick-making industry and transportation were the two main air polluting sectors in Dhaka.
The Particulate Matter is the major pollutant concern in Dhaka which has marked a significant rise despite a massive dip in pollution levels in 2004 after the ban on two-stroke vehicles in 2003, Golam Sarwar said.
PM-2.5 (fine particles) levels rose to 192mcm in 2008 while PM-10 levels rose to 291mcm.
The World Health Organisation recommends PM-2.5 levels are kept below 20mcm to prevent ill health and 70mcm as an interim target for highly polluted cities.
Anumita said, ‘Vehicles are of very special concern because vehicle emissions take place within the breathing zone of the people. This increases our daily exposure to deadly dose of toxins. Vehicles are responsible for the maximum amount of human exposure to air pollution.’
Studies carried out by the World Bank in other cities have shown that nearly half of the total exposure to particulates that make people ill could be due the vehicles. That is why vehicles require more stringent measures, she added.
Quoting a report of the Asian Development Bank, Anumita said, ‘About 78,000 private vehicles could be removed from the city roads if the modal share of public transport is increased to 60 per cent.’
National advocacy officer of the WBB Trust Syed Mahbubul Alam said public transport in Dhaka shares only 10 per cent of overall modal share of commuters’ trip and walking shares as much as 62 per cent.
According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, there are over two lakh private vehicles (car and jeep) plying the city roads.