Waiting to exhale: Bangladesh’s capital tops list with world’s worst air quality

Smoke rises from brick kilns as ferries cross the Dholeshori River in Munshiganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 14, 2015. (AP)
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Updated 10 May 2020

Waiting to exhale: Bangladesh’s capital tops list with world’s worst air quality

DHAKA: Despite its anti-coronavirus lockdown, Bangladesh took the top spot in the list of countries with the world’s worst air quality. An official from the Department of Environment (DoE) saying on Sunday that brick kilns around the capital were the fundamental cause for pollution.

“Air quality in Dhaka was supposed to be better during this ongoing lockdown when vehicles are almost absent on the road. But the brick kilns surrounding the city have created this huge amount of pollution,” Mohammad Ziaul Haque, air quality management director at the DoE, told Arab News on Sunday.

It follows a survey released by the US-based Air Quality Index (AQI) on Saturday which reported Dhaka’s air as the worst with a score of 156, followed by Riyadh at 147 and Jakarta at 117.

According to the statement released on the AQI website, when the AQI value is between 101 to 150 “members of sensitive groups may experience health effects.”

An AQI value between 151 to 200 is considered “unhealthy” and “everyone may begin to experience health effects” causing “serious” concern for sensitive groups.

To tackle the increasing levels of pollutants in the air, Haque said, the DoE began conducting a drive against all illegal brick kilns around Dhaka, but had to stop the initiative after the lockdown was imposed on March 26.

“Brick kilns around the capital alone are 40 percent responsible for Dhaka’s air pollution while carbon emissions from unfit vehicles contribute to 25 per cent of poor air quality. We will crack down on unfit vehicles once the lockdown is over,” Haque said.

However, some environmental experts said several medium and large-scale industries around Dhaka are equally responsible.

“Our municipalities are burning garbage in two dumping sites at the outskirts of Dhaka. Besides, many long-distance passenger and goods vehicles run within Dhaka during night hours, which is also causing severe air pollution,” Prof. Dr Ahmed Kamruzzaman Mazumder, of the Bangladesh Environment Movement (BAPA), said.

The city has the worst air quality during the winter from November to February.

“We need to form a winter period pollution control policy to maintain the sustainable healthy air quality in the capital,” said Dr Mazumder, who is also the director of Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS), a Dhaka-based environmental policy research organization.

 


Britain’s Iraq war crimes probe dismisses thousands of complaints

Updated 25 min 4 sec ago

Britain’s Iraq war crimes probe dismisses thousands of complaints

  • Former lawyer Phil Shiner and a team in Berlin drew on the accounts of more than 400 Iraqis who allegedly witnessed or experienced crimes

LONDON: An independent British investigator looking into allegations that UK soldiers committed war crimes in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 said Tuesday that all but one of the thousands of complaints have been dropped.
The Service Prosecuting Authority director Andrew Cayley told BBC radio that it was “quite possible” that none of the original allegations will lead to a prosecution.
Cayley did not provide details of the allegation in the last remaining case.
British combat troops fought alongside other coalition forces in an effort to quell an Islamic insurgency that followed the 2003 US invasion and subsequent fall and execution of dictator Saddam Hussein.
Former lawyer Phil Shiner and a team in Berlin drew on the accounts of more than 400 Iraqis who allegedly witnessed or experienced crimes ranging from rape and torture to mock executions and other atrocities.
A UK tribunal struck off Shiner after finding him guilty of misconduct and dishonesty in connection with the allegations in 2017.
Cayley told the BBC that it was likely that no action would be taken in a separate International Criminal Court (ICC) probe.
“My sense is these matters are coming to a conclusion,” he said.
A lawyer representing some of the soldiers accused by Shiner called for a public apology over the “vile war crime slurs.”
“At long last, this witch hunt is coming to an end,” lawyer Hilary Meredith said.
The UK Defense Ministry said in 2012 that it had paid £15.1 million ($19 million, 17 million euros) to more than 200 Iraqis who had accused British troops of illegal detention and torture.