Despite criticism from locals, students, environmentalists, social workers, researchers, teachers, and artists, Dhaka South cut hundreds of trees on road dividers of Sat Masjid road near Abahani playground in Dhanmondi on Monday night, backtracking on its previous decision.
Earlier on 31 January, Dhaka South stopped the cutting of trees amid protests from people from various walks of life.
Dhaka South authorities said widening the road dividers is not possible without cutting the trees and some fast-growing medium-sized trees will be planted in that place.
However, experts said whereas the authorities should have taken initiatives to plant more trees in urban areas, they are doing just the opposite. This type of development by cutting trees will put the environment in more crisis.
According to a survey by the Centre for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS), summertime temperature in Dhaka is three to five degrees Celsius higher in heavily urbanised areas than in areas with more green coverage and water bodies.
On Tuesday, it was found that hundreds of trees on road dividers of Sat Masjid Road – from Abahani playground to Dhanmondi-15 – were cut down.
Dhanmondi resident Hasibul Haque told TBS that Dhaka South is cutting down the trees at such a time when the unbearable heat of the capital has made the lives of over two crore city dwellers miserable. The roads in Dhanmondi used to be less hot, but after cutting the trees, the area has become hotter. Authorities should plant more trees, rather than cutting the existing ones, to save the environment.
Dhaka South Chief Engineer Saleh Ahmed told TBS, "We had to change plans of road dividers of Sat Masjid Road. The roads are narrow and there is no scope to widen it as there are buildings on both sides. So, new road dividers will be three-foot wide, which is not possible without cutting the trees. After the work is complete, we will plant fast-growing trees."
Atmospheric research platform CAPS Director Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder told TBS, "In our survey, we found the temperature of nine areas of the capital is lower than other areas. Botanical Gardens, Ramana Park, Chandrima Udyan, and Dhanmondi residential area were some of them as the number of trees is higher in these areas compared to other areas. If the trees are cut, the Dhanmondi area will be a hotter area, similar to the Tejgaon industrial area."
This expert said that one of the reasons for Dhaka becoming a heat island is the heat emitted from roads and buildings. If there are enough trees along the roads and on the dividers, the temperature in that area will be much lower.
He further said that the temperature difference in nearby areas around the world is around one degree Celsius whereas the difference between central Dhaka and its surrounding areas is four to five degree Celsius, which is very alarming.
An area is supposed to have 25% trees to protect its environment, but Dhaka has less than 7%. Due to air pollution in the city due to the lack of sufficient vegetation, people are constantly suffering from diseases like breathing problems, asthma, and lung cancer. Besides, the amount of oxygen required for humans is not available due to the lack of trees, he added.