The city of Rajshahi, in west Bangladesh, which was one of the world’s most polluted cities, has set new records for cutting air pollution by reducing harmful air particles (PM10 particles).
Smog, like in many urban areas in Asia, used to be a major problem, due to dust from dry riverbeds, fields and roads, and choking smog from brick kilns.
According to the city’s chief engineer, Ashraful Haque, Rajshahi’s pollution problem was mainly due to brick kilns. By upgrading the brick kilns, thanks to the change of chimneys and fuel, the pollution of the city was reduced considerably.
Consequently, the action taken by the city to clean-up the brick kilns, the level of PM10 particles, which are larger, fell from 195 microgrammes per cubic metre in 2014, to just 63.9 in 2016. Smaller PM2.5 particles have also fallen from 70 to 37 microgrammes per cubic metre.
UN data indicates that the city has hit a new record in reducing air particles that are harmful to human health.
Also, in 2004, the city began its action on transport issues, with the import of a fleet of battery-powered rickshaws from China, which became the main form of public transports; and the ban of large trucks from the city centre during the day.
Prior to this, a campaign already started 15 years ago with the plantation of an important number of trees, and it now involves everything from transport to rubbish collection.
Haque says: “We have a ‘zero soil’ programme in the city, with lots of planting and green intervention. When it works, there should be no part of the road that will be dirt. It will be all grass, flower or pavement.”
The project has achieved so far 9 miles of pavement, which is vital for controlling the amount of dust in the air, hoping to extend to 30 soon, and it has planned the construction of the city’s and country’s first cycling lane.
Haque said: “I went to the river Thames and saw people riding bikes, I got the idea from Japan and China as well. We don’t have enough land for a separate lane in many places, but where we can we will separate with a border, making a pavement and a cycle lane beside it.”
The environment is largely connected to our health; air pollution and pollution of all kinds if not reduced or well manage may have adverse effects on health and lead to the up rise of diseases.
Remember, it begins with YOU!