Environmentalists and economists at a seminar on Wednesday urged the authorities concerned to review the emission standards of thermal power plants that highly contribute to global warming through carbon emission.
The country’s existing standards of permissible limit of particulate matters in air do not match with that of the global ones, they pointed out, and suggested revising the provision in this regard under the country’s air pollution control act.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) reduced the standard of particulate matter in air, Bangladesh has raised the level in its pollution control rules, they lamented.
The Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) organised the seminar titled “Rethinking Emission Standards for Thermal Power Plants in Bangladesh” at the Stamford University Bangladesh auditorium.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, addressed the event as the chief guest.
As air pollution has three times the impact of all pollutants, he said that all developments are necessary to consider the public health issues and that “pollution must be taken into consideration while planning power plants.”
He also observed that the foreign researchers consider their interest first. So, all our development research needs to be done by our local researchers, he added.
Jahangirnagar University teacher and Executive Director of the Institute for Planning and Development (IPD) Prof Adil Mohammed Khan, Chief Executive of the Center for Participatory Research and Development Md Shamsuddoha, and Additional Research Director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Khondaker Moazzem also spoke at the event among others.
CAPS Chairman Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder presented a keynote paper, saying the WHO has reduced the standard of particulate matter of 2.5 standards from 10 micrograms per cubic metre to 5 micrograms per cubic metre realizing the health risks of air pollution.
But the government has hiked the standard to 35 micrograms from 15 micrograms per cubic metre in the recently passed Air Pollution (Control) Rules-2022.
On the other hand, in the same rules, the maximum limit of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter standards for stack emissions of thermal power plants have been set at 200, 200 and 50 mg per cubic metre respectively, which is at least 4-5 times higher than the standards of developed countries.
The developed countries follow the standards of noise level while doing development activities in their countries. The same standards are not followed by the developing countries when working in our country as the development partners, he alleged.
Prof Khan of IPD said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of projects taken by the government is mostly flawed. Power plants are being built in environmentally hazardous areas. “What the developed countries are accepting in all these areas, we are not accepting here.”
Mr Moazzem of CPD said: “We consider both green energy and energy security to be contradictory. Our coastal regions are sinking due to carbon emissions. But we ourselves are emitting carbon and raising demands in various forums for compensation.”
Sulphur and mercury are not mentioned in the standards of Bangladesh. It needs to be added. Also, emission levels in factories need to be constantly monitored and strictly controlled by legislation, speakers said at the event.
Presided over the seminar, Vice-Chancellor of Stamford University Bangladesh Md. Moniruzzaman said environmentalists will continue to inform us about the current situation by doing more research on air pollution and urge politicians to consider industry and the environment in the policymaking process.