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Littering a behavioural problem in Bangladesh: Experts

15 Nov 2015, 10:04

NTV Online

Dhaka: Already labelled as the world’s second least liveable city, capital Dhaka is unlikely to regain its lost glory anytime soon as littering now looks to be a ‘socially accepted behaviour’ in Bangladesh, said urban experts.

However, the mayors of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) have set a target to have littering-free capital by March 2016 with ‘effective measures’.

Urban experts think the lack of awareness among common people, inaction by policymakers, city authorities and the absence of adequate dustbins in public spaces of the capital lead people to get into the habit of littering, reports United News of Bangladesh.

The types of littering Dhaka city face include dropping of plastic and other bottles, cigarette butts, cigarette packets, papers, paper bags, waste from different food items, coconut shells, tissue papers, domestic refuse, vegetable matter, garbage, clothes and hard waste.

‘In many cities across the globe, littering is considered as a crime and people found littering is fined. So, the authorities should make littering a social crime in Dhaka too and penalise people for committing it,’ Dr Sarwar Jahan, a professor of Urban and Regional Planning (URP) Department of Buet, quotes UNB.

‘Singapore, during its early stage of development, faced the problem what Dhaka does now. Singapore got over the problem by conducting strong anti-littering campaign alongside stern punitive measurers with its proper enforcement. We can follow that,’ he said.

The Buet professor said the mass media, as part of its social responsibility, should carry out campaigns to raise awareness among people to educate them about the harmful effects of littering and persuade them to change their habit in a bid to keep the city clean.

Dr Sarwar Jahan said city corporations should set up adequate dustbins in the city’s litter-prone areas so that no one goes for littering. ‘They should also force shop owners to keep their respective areas litter-free and keep bins around for their customers to dump trashes.’

Professor Nazrul Islam, a renowned urban expert, said, ‘Littering is our very big cultural problem. ‘If you look around, trash and litter is everywhere. It seems people don’t care about the waste. So, we need to raise awareness among people to change their habit of littering. We say cleanliness is part of faith. So why do we litter? We need to spread this message to people through campaigns.’

‘We also need to make our people law-abiding ones. You won’t find littering problem in Dhaka Cantonment area as people there have respect for law and awareness about bad effects of littering.’

Prof Islam, also a former UGC chairman, emphasised teaching children about it in schools, making it part of their curriculum that littering is not only a bad habit but also a social crime which affects the environment.

Contacted, DNCC mayor Annisul Huq said they have taken the littering issue with high importance to make the city clean and liveable one. ‘We’re seriously working on it. We’ve a target to solve this problem by March 2016. I don’t want to say now how it will happen, but I can assure you that we’ll be successful in our endeavours.’

As part of their initiative to face the littering problem, he said, they have already sat with city’s shop owners’ associations and gave them until January next to come up with steps to check their dumpsters every day and clean their areas. ‘We have also asked them to provide trash cans in front of their business establishments with a sign -Please do not litter.’

Annis said they will directly fine the shop owners who will fail to keep their areas clean after January. 

He also said they are now creating volunteers in different schools and colleges to carry out a strong anti-littering campaign to address this cultural problem by encouraging people to deposit trash in proper places. ‘We’ll hang billboards in the city to create public awareness.’

Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokan also echoed Annis to make the city litter-free early next year. ‘We’re now working out plans and ways to face littering problem and make the city a clean one. You’ll see the results in 2016.’

He said they are going to launch an anti-littering drive very soon to make people aware about littering hazards and encourage them to change their habit of making public places and streets dirty.