The Department of Environment launched a mobile court drive in Dhaka’s Manik Mia Avenue at 10:30 am on Wednesday to test the pollution levels of vehicles.
The mobile court conducted tests on smoke emitted by nine vehicles, including buses, trucks and pick-ups, until noon. The test found smoke emitted by seven of the nine vehicles was polluting the environment beyond the tolerable limit.
The level of noise pollution by horns used by five of those vehicles was also tested at the time. All five of them were found to produce beyond the tolerable limit.
The drive is a part of a campaign launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in Dhaka, Gazipur and Savar in an attempt to reduce the country’s air pollution level, following the instruction issued by Environment Minister Md Shahab Uddin on Tuesday.
The environment department conducted a total of five mobile court drives in Dhaka, Gazipur and Savar as part of the campaign.
The officials said the standard emission limit of a vehicle is 65 HSU. But the nine vehicles tested by the mobile court emitted smoke beyond the standard.
The tolerable noise limit is 60 decibels in Manik Mia Avenue in the daytime, but the authorities recorded 110, 97, 99, 98 and 101dB noises produced by horns used by the nine cars.
A bus operated by Hanif Paribahan has also been fined for noise pollution. But Ruhul Amin, the driver of the bus, claimed that his vehicle did not have a hydraulic horn.
Pointing at the horn, he said, “it’s not a hydraulic horn. It’s called a TT horn, which produces less noise. But they (environment department officials) are claiming that it causes more noise and fined us Tk 3,000.”
Dhaka recently topped the list of cities on the bad air quality index due to heavy dust particles found in the air at the onset of winter.
On Jan 22, the air pollution score was 271 for the capital, which was described as very unhealthy by IQAir, a Swiss group that measures air quality levels. The air pollution score was recorded at 163 AQI on Wednesday.
It is considered unhealthy for children, the old and people with respiratory distress if the air pollution score remains between 101 and 150 SQI. It is very unhealthy for all if the air quality index passes 201 SQI.
“The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is working in cooperation with all organisations to curb the air pollution level. It seeks 10 more executive magistrates from the Ministry of Public Administration to strengthen the campaign,” Shahab Uddin said during his visit to oversee the mobile court drives in Dhaka.
The minister blamed people’s lack of awareness for the high pollution level, asking city corporations and BRTA officials to take measures to curb the dust pollution limit in the capital.