The High Court yesterday issued some directives for the government to reduce air pollution in and around the capital and also ordered the Department of Environment to shut down the rest of the illegal brick kilns in five districts, including Dhaka, in next two months.
It also asked the authorities to seize the vehicles emitting black smoke beyond permissible limit in Dhaka city.
The directives and orders came during the hearing for a writ petition, filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh in January last year.
On Sunday, the DoE submitted a report to the HC stating that it has shut down 349 illegal brick kilns, which have no environment clearance certificate, out of 559 in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur, Munshiganj and Manikganj in line with the court’s earlier directive.
The DoE said the brick kilns were closed through operating mobile courts and issuing notices. Besides, it realised fines of Tk 4.93 crore from the owners of the brick kilns, and the drives were going on.
Yesterday, the HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader in its directives said appropriate steps should be taken to stop burning of tyres and recycling of vehicles’ batteries without the approval from the DoE.
The court asked the government authorities to take steps to ensure that all the market owners or shopkeepers keep their daily garbage in a safe bin or bag or sack. The garbage must be dumped in the designated areas before the closure of shops or markets.
It asked the government to take steps to fix the economic life of different vehicles as per section 36 of the Road Transport Act, 2018. The court banned plying of economic life-expired vehicles on the roads in the capital.
The HC ordered the government to ensure road construction or carpeting or excavation works by strictly complying with the related laws and rules and also with the terms and conditions of tenders to ensure clear air.
The court said the government must ensure that trucks carrying mud or waste on the roads in the capital have those covered. It also instructed the contractors to use bags or sacks for storing or keeping sand or mud at the city’s construction sites so that air was not polluted.
It further ordered the authorities to take steps to spray water over the construction areas in the morning and evening every day.
The HC bench ordered the authorities concerned to submit a report to it on March 1 on the progress of implementing its directives.
DOE DG SUMMONED
Yesterday, the HC bench summoned the DoE director general to appear before it on February 2 to explain why air pollution in Dhaka city could not be reduced.
The DG has also been asked to give explanations about the quality of Dhaka air and the manpower of the organisation.
Earlier in the day, petitioner’s counsel Advocate Manzill Murshid made some recommendations to the HC bench for reducing the air pollution and prayed to it to issue directives in this regard.
Deputy Attorney General Abdullah-Al-Mahmud Bashar represented the state.
Following the writ petition, the HC on January 28 last year had issued a rule, asking the government to explain why the inaction of the administration to curb air pollution in the capital should not be declared illegal and why it should not be directed to take effective steps to stop air pollution.
The city had the worst air quality in the world on November 25 last year, according to Air Visual, an air quality measuring application.
The situation reportedly prompted the government to draw up immediate measures to give some relief to the city dwellers.
“The level of air pollution is alarming. Just a few days ago, air quality in Dhaka was the third or fourth worst in the world. But now it tops the ranking,” said Shahab Uddin, minister for environment, forest and climate change, who presided over an emergency inter-ministerial meeting on Monday.
Last year, Dhaka’s air was ranked third most polluted in the world, according to air quality data compiled by the World Health Organisation for megacities with a population of 14 million or more.