Delay in operation of six new air-quality monitoring stationsFerdous Ara
The operation of six air quality monitoring stations, funded by the World Bank, will not start until 2014 at the earliest, two years behind their scheduled opening even though their construction has been completed.
Environment department project officials say that the operation of the stations, along with dissemination of their findings, was supposed to start in January 2012. Although the construction has been completed there remain problems of electricity and equipment.
The technical consultant of the project, Swapan Kumar Biswas, said, ‘We have faced many hurdles to find the site, to obtain power connections and to construct these six stations’.
Five continuous air monitoring stations already exist in Bangladesh, installed between 2002 and 2006, but the one located in the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban area in Dhaka and another in Khulna need replacement or overhaul.
The department of environment officials said the existing Dhaka station would be replaced and the one in Khulna would be modernised to make the plants capable of monitoring all pollutants.
Swapan said that at present, in relation to these existing stations, ‘due to lack of adequate and knowledgeable manpower, we have not been able to aggregate the air quality to provide a national air quality index’.
The project officer Golam Sarwar said that records show that air quality in Dhaka remains within permitted levels between April and October, but starts deteriorating in November until March of the following year.
During the winter period, the burning of coal in brick-kilns contribute 40 per cent of the air pollution in the city, he said.
Other sources of air pollution include re-suspension of road dust from traffic, open burning of materials like leather and tyres, and industrial sources such as cement manufacturing and metal melting, said Sarwar.
The national standard of air quality, set by the department of environment, allows a maximum of 65 microgram particles of 2.5 micron and 150 microgram particles of 10 micron for every cubic metre of air.
However, during winter the air pollution levels in Dhaka city can increase alarmingly with concentrations of up to 274 microgram of fine particulate matters per cubic metre, said officials.
Three of the six new monitoring stations are in Dhaka division– one on the premises of the Institute of Mass Communication on Darus Salam Road at Mirpur, another in the premises of Narayanganj 200-bed hospital and the other in Gazipur municipality graveyard area.
In the port city of Chittagong, the station will be set up on the land of Chittagong City Coprporation at Agrabad, while the station in Sylhet is established at the Red Crescent Bhaban and the one in Barisal is located around the offices of the local DoE.
An Indian company has supplied the equipment manufactured in the US.
National Asthma Centre project director Rashedul Hasan said that air pollution is a major cause of respiratory problems which can weaken the immunity system of small children in the urban areas.
Particulate matter with diameters less than 10µm can penetrate deep into the lungs and affect respiratory and cardiovascular systems, he added.
comments powered by Disqus