In recent years, the temperature in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, has been rising every year, breaking records for heat waves and sweltering summer heat. There are concerns about the impact of dwindling green coverage in the city, with many experts warning that the loss of trees and green spaces has contributed to the rising temperatures. The impact of dwindling greenery on the temperature of Dhaka, the reasons behind the loss of green coverage, and the actions needed to address this issue need to be addressed.
Lack of Green Coverage
Dhaka has seen a rapid decline in green coverage over the past few decades. According to a study by the Department of Environment, the city’s green coverage has decreased from 30% in the 1960s to just 7% in 2017. This rapid loss of greenery is mainly due to the increasing demand for urbanization and industrialization, as well as the lack of proper urban planning and regulatory measures.
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The remaining green spaces in the city are also under threat, with many being encroached upon for various purposes. According to a report by a Bangladeshi news daily, the city authorities have failed to protect the green spaces in Dhaka from illegal occupation and encroachment. It has been reported that illegal structures, including shops, restaurants, and homes, have been built on public parks and other green spaces, destroying the environment and wildlife.
The Impact on the Temperature
The dwindling green coverage in Dhaka has had a significant impact on the temperature of the city. The loss of green spaces has led to an increase in the temperature of the city, with temperatures rising by up to 42-43 degree Fahrenheit or 2-3 degrees Celsius in some areas. This has not only made the city hotter but also made it more vulnerable to heatwaves.
According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, the frequency of heatwaves in Dhaka has increased significantly in recent years. In 2019, Dhaka experienced its highest temperature on record, with the temperature reaching 42.4 degrees Celsius. The heatwaves have had a severe impact on the health of the people, with many suffering from heat-related illnesses and deaths.
Improving Liveability: Learning from Kerala’s Example
The low ranking of Dhaka in the Economist Intelligence Unit index highlights the urgent need for improving the liveability of the city. The city has struggled to improve its score, with infrastructure remaining the same and culture and environment score dropping. However, there is hope that the city can still be saved from further decline. The capital city has been facing a persistent challenge in its ranking on the liveability index. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit index, Dhaka stands at 166th among 172 cities, making it the seventh least liveable city in the world, behind cities such as Karachi, Algiers, Lagos, and Damascus. Since 2016, the city’s overall score has remained at the 38-39 level out of 100, with infrastructure remaining the same and culture and environment score dropping.
In fact, Dhaka’s culture and environment score has dropped from 27.5 in 2016 to 23.2 in 2021, indicating a significant decline in the city’s liveability in terms of the quality of culture and environment. This data suggests that despite efforts to improve infrastructure, the city’s overall liveability has not significantly improved, with the environment and culture being two areas of concern.
The physical and financial losses of the people are increasing with the rise in temperature due to the depletion of water bodies and greenery. It is essential to incorporate environmental protection into development plans to mitigate these losses. Kerala state in neighbouring India offers an example of how a city can be developed without ignoring the conservation of water bodies.
The town of Kodungallur in Kerala has used water bodies as a catalyst for growth and development, sustaining its ecosystem, enhancing the social and recreational value, and improving liveability. Dhaka can learn from Kerala’s example and prioritize the conservation of water bodies and green spaces in its development plans to improve the liveability of the city.
The Need for Urgent Action
The impact of dwindling green coverage on the temperature of Dhaka is undeniable, and urgent action is needed to address this issue. The government and private sector must work together to preserve and expand the remaining green spaces and adopt sustainable practices that protect the environment. The government should prioritize the preservation of existing green spaces and the creation of new ones.
The government should ensure that there are adequate regulations to protect the green spaces and prevent illegal occupation and encroachment. In addition, the government should encourage private companies to take responsibility for their environmental impact by adopting sustainable practices and investing in green initiatives.
The private sector should also take responsibility for their environmental impact. Many companies in Dhaka have been criticized for their lack of commitment to sustainable practices. Private companies should adopt sustainable practices such as reducing their carbon footprint, reducing water usage, and investing in green initiatives.
The Role of Urban Planning
Urban planning also plays a crucial role in preserving green spaces in the city. Proper urban planning can ensure that green spaces are integrated into the design of the city and not viewed as an afterthought. Urban planners should also prioritize the creation of green corridors and urban forests in the city, which can provide shade and mitigate the urban heat island effect.
The government should also invest in public transportation and discourage the use of private cars. The increase in private cars in the city has led to an increase in pollution, which has had a severe impact on the environment and the health of the people. The government should also encourage the use of bicycles and other forms of sustainable transportation to reduce pollution and traffic congestion.
To conclude, it is clear that the dwindling greenery in Dhaka is responsible for the extreme heat in the city, and urgent action is needed to address this issue. The loss of green spaces not only makes the city hotter but also makes it more vulnerable to heatwaves, which have a severe impact on the health of the people. Therefore, it is crucial that the government, private sector, and urban planners work together to preserve and expand the remaining green spaces in the city and adopt sustainable practices to protect the environment.
By doing so, the city of Dhaka can become a greener, healthier, and more liveable place for all its residents. It is time for us to take action and make Dhaka a shining example of sustainable urban living. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs but not every man’s greed.” We must act now to ensure that we leave behind a planet that is healthy and sustainable for future generations.