Despite the High Court ordering Dhaka city corporations to spray water in dust-prone areas twice a day, the directive is not properly being carried out.
Several officials concerned, however, said that the city corporations are spraying water on major routes twice a day in ten zones across the capital.
On November 26 last year, the High Court asked the Dhaka North and South city corporations to spray water on city roads to reduce dust pollution.
According to city corporation documents, Dhaka South sprays water on nine major roads from 6am to 8:30am and from 1pm to 3pm.
Dhaka South officials said that they have eight vehicles for spraying water on the roads. The fleet includes one 5,000-litre-capacity, two 10,000-litre-capacity and five 7,000-litre-capacity vehicles. These vehicles spray 1.2 lakh litres of water, every day, on Dhaka's major roads.
On Thursday, this correspondent waited, between 1pm and 4pm, at the Kalabagan area of Mirpur Road. However, no vehicle arrived to spray water on the dusty road.
Assistant Police Inspector Zakaria Farid of the Kalabagan Traffic Police Box said, "A water-vehicle sprays the road every morning, but I have never seen any vehicle spraying water in the afternoon,"
Farid added that the city corporation had sprayed water on the road on Thursday morning as well.
Khandakar Millatul Islam, the adviser to the Dhaka South City Corporation's Waste Management Division, said that the authorities will look into the matter regarding why water is not being sprayed on the roads twice a day.
"We spray water on major roads. If someone fails to spray water properly, we will look into the matter and take necessary steps to resume the service," he said.
Sources from the Dhaka North City Corporation said they spray water on ten routes of its five zones at 6am and 5pm.
Abul Hasnat Md Ashraful Alam, acting superintending engineer of the Dhaka North City Corporation, said that ten water trucks spray water twice, every day, to reduce dust quantities from the roads.
Dhaka North does not depend on Dhaka WASA for water and is getting the water from three deep wells in the Gabtoli, Mirpur and Mohakhali areas using its own pumps.
On Sunday, this correspondent waited at the Tibet intersection from 6am to 10am to see if any vehicle was spraying water on the road. But, no water-spraying vehicles were spotted in the area during that time.
Babul Miah, a traffic constable deployed at the Tibet intersection in the Tejgaon area, said that he had not seen any vehicle spraying water on the roads on Sunday.
"The water-spraying vehicle does not visit this area regularly. It is tough to work in this dusty area. I have not seen any vehicle spraying water in the last week," he said.
When asked, Abul Hasnat Md Ashraful Alam, acting superintending engineer of Dhaka North City Corporation said that they will look into the matter.
"If any irregularities are found in the water-spraying process, action will be taken," he said.
The 20-kilometre-long metro rail line from Uttara to Motijheel is one of the most dust- producing projects in the city. Project authorities said they have arranged for water to be sprayed on the roads beside the project to reduce dust.
Dhaka South budget
Dhaka South City Corporation sources said that they have eight vehicles which run on diesel and 13 litres of diesel is required for these vehicles daily. The fuel cost for operating these vehicles is Tk6,000 per day.
The corporation has three more vehicles that run on gas. These vehicles need 16 cubic feet of gas per day. On average, Tk2,000 is needed to fuel these vehicles.
A total of Tk8,000 is needed every day to operate the water trucks. According to Dhaka North officials, they collect water from Dhaka Wasa for free.
Dhaka North budget
Abul Hasnat Md Ashraful Alam, acting superintending engineer of Dhaka North City Corporation, said that they spray around 4.5 lakh litres of water on the city roads daily.
The corporation spends around Tk50,000, every day, on fuel for vehicles and electric bills to operate water pumps. Ten water trucks, with a capacity of 10,000 litres each, spray water on the roads.
Professor Nazrul Islam, honourary president of the Centre for Urban Studies, said, "So many projects are being implemented in the city at the same time, which is uncommon in many other cities across the globe. The development work cannot be stopped.
"So, it is not unnatural that dust will be produced by the construction sites across Dhaka. I believe that for the time being, it is a good method to spray water around construction sites to reduce dust. There is no other alternative," said Professor Nazrul Islam.
Bangladesh Institute of Planners' Secretary General Adil Mohammed Khan said that spraying water on the roads to reduce dust is a temporary solution.
"The government must work to stop the source of the dust. The water dries less than an hour after being sprayed on the roads, and then the dust returns. So, what is the point of spraying water?" he said.
On November 26 this year, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change held an inter-ministerial meeting.
Environment Minister Shahab Uddin said addressing the meeting, "Dust particles are contributing to the city's worsening air pollution, and are caused by construction on uncovered sites."
He emphasised the need for all government and private agencies or organizations to take effective steps to curb air pollution in Dhaka.