Workshop on Air Quality and Sustainable Transportation Challenge in South Asian Cities in Dhaka

A joint initiative of Centre for Science and Environment, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority and Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, Dhaka

Venue: Seminar Room, Level-2, Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban, University of Dhaka, Dhaka
Date: April 30, 2013 (Tuesday)
Time: 10.00 am – 2.30 pm

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) organsied a Workshop on Air Quality and Sustainable Transportation Challenge in South Asian Cities in Dhaka on April 30, 2013 in collaboration with Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, Dhaka. This workshop is part of our initiative to build a forum for city dialogue on air quality and sustainable mobility in South Asia and to find solutions to the daunting air pollution and mobility challenges facing our cities. This workshop brought together a wide spectrum of 110 stakeholders including policy makers from concerned Ministries, departments/agencies, experts, academicians, civil society groups and others who are involved with the implementation of the clean air, transportation and mobility related policies in Bangladesh to discuss the air pollution and transportation challenges of Dhaka and future action.

CSE presented the air quality and transportation challenges in Dhaka and the future action. CSE said, South Asian cities including Dhaka and Delhi, while having taken some significant steps to control air pollution face newer challenges and the only way they can address the twin challenges of air pollution and congestion is by protecting their inherent strength in sustainable commuting practices – public transport, walking, cycling and compact city design. The cities have to recognize their inherent strength otherwise pro-car policies can destroy this advantage and lead to enormous pollution, ill health and fuel wastage. Both Dhaka and Delhi need second generation action, including accelerating vehicle technology leapfrog, scaling up of public transport, integrated multi-modal transport options, car restraint, walking and cycling for clean air. CSE also shared the findings of the opinion survey of select group of stakeholders in Dhaka to assess the public perception of the growing problem of pollution and congestion and the nature of intervention needed. The survey findings showed about 80 per cent of the survey respondents travel daily by bus, or use cycle rickshaws and walk; 20 per cent use cars. A snapshot of the ongoing survey brought out the challenges that Dhaka is facing – deteriorating air quality and health impacts due to air pollution. The survey brought out overwhelming support for public transport. The respondents stressed on the need for good quality, reliable, convenient city bus services and walking and cycling facilities (pavements, footpaths, cycle paths).

The BRTA Chairman in the key note address presented the key challenges of Dhaka and said the experience sharing initiatives in both cities of Dhaka and Delhi would provide the opportunity to share experiences to learn from each other and to further the action planning process. The WBB Trust presented the mobility challenges in Dhaka and initiatives.

The other speakers/panelists addressed the gathering on issues including air quality monitoring and management; gaseous fuel programme – next gen challenge of CNG programme in Dhaka; public transport strategies to reverse the trend of growing dependence on cars; non motorised transport – walking and cycling strategies; car restraint strategies and parking policy; challenges of in-use vehicles and roadmap for effective vehicle inspection programme in Bangladesh and role of civil society in the transition.

The workshop helped to capture the air pollution and mobility challenges and initiatives in Dhaka and identify the second generation action plan. Dhaka has the chance to plan its future growth differently by recognising its strength in its huge base of zero-emission non-motorised and sustainable public transport and act upon this immense advantage and strength; reduce dependence on cars and personal vehicle usage; leapfrogging vehicle technology; upgrading public transport; build pedestrian infrastructure to promote walking and cycling; introduce a parking policy as a congestion reduction strategy and use tax measures to discourage personal vehicle usage and inefficient use of fuels.

For details, contact:

Priyanka Chandola
Right To Clean Air Campaign
Centre for Science and Environment
Tel: +91 – 9810414938 (Mobile)