We have heard a lot about poor air quality recently concerning our own cities, most notably London but these problems are nothing compared with Rajshahi in Bangladesh. Rajshahi has had the unfortunate accolade of being one of the world’s most polluted cities. This has been caused by dust blowing up from fields, roads and dry riverbeds combining with choking smog from brick kilns on the edge of the town and transport emissions.
A campaign to make the city greener began 15 years ago with a tree planting drive and now includes everything from rubbish collection to transport. Changing transport for greener options began in 2004 by altering the petrol/diesel powered rickshaws, which are the main form of public transport, for battery operated versions and by banning large lorries from the city centre during the day.
A campaign to clean up the brick kilns by changing the chimneys and fuel has reduced the pollution from them dramatically as has a project to make the city centre greener by reducing the amount of dust thrown up by people and vehicles. To ensure that dust is removed from the roads, pavements have been installed and surfaces have been grassed or planted. The city’s chief engineer who is responsible for all this improvement was inspired by visits to London and other cities around the world where people walk around the city instead of looking for transport.
His next project is to encourage cycling by installing cycle lanes to encourage a healthier lifestyle.