GHGSat Inc, a Montreal, Canada-based emission-tracking company, says the Matuail landfill in Dhaka emits four tonnes of methane gas into the atmosphere every hour. Dhaka South City Corporation authorities and local experts termed this "unbelievable".
Methane raises atmospheric temperature 80 times more than carbon dioxide.
The ministry of environment has formed a committee for further investigation into GHGSAT findings.
Earlier, several global emission tracking companies reported the presence of methane in the skies of Dhaka, but now GHGSAT has reported specific emission sources.
GHGSat analysed images taken from their satellites on 17 April and found the landfill emits four tonnes of methane per hour equaling the emission of 190,000 passenger cars.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), which operates the landfill, says the methane emission estimation of GHGSat seems unbelievable.
Shafiullah Siddique Bhuiyan, project director of Matuail landfill, said, "It seems unbelievable that so much methane gas is being emitted. We will see on what basis they (GHGSat) have provided such information. We will look into the amount of methane and other gases."
Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik, joint secretary (Climate Change-1) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, said a 10 member technical committee has been formed by the ministry to look into the matter.
Apart from ministry of environment officials, representatives of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), Dhaka University, the Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARRSO), Dhaka South and Dhaka North City Corporation, BLRI, and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute are also on the committee.
The committee will inspect the site to independently determine the methane emissions and submit a report within a month.
Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change and Director General (on routine duty) of the Department of Environment, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, is convener of the committee.
He said, "We have to find out the truth of what they said. Besides landfills, methane gas is also emitted from various sources including agricultural fields, industrial units, power plants, and fertiliser factories. Nothing can be said about the veracity of the claim until the committee reports."
"Methane emissions are insignificant in our country so we are not so worried, but we have to check the facts. We are all concerned about the matter," he added.
Besides the Matuail landfill, the committee will try to determine the amount of methane emissions from other sources too. The committee has not started to work on the matter yet.
Joint Secretary Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik confirmed that a letter regarding the formation of the committee was issued on 25 April. However, Dhaka South City Corporation's Chief Waste Officer, Air Commodore Badrul Amin, said he still has no idea about the formation of the committee.
"Till now I am not aware of such a committee but we have the equipment to measure the amount of methane released from landfills," said Dr Md Rafiqul, chief scientific officer and head of the Soil Science Department of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).
Dr Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus at the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research at Brac University, thinks that such information on methane emissions is not reliable.
He said, "Here we do not have the main source of methane like a coal mine. We don't have a power plant here too. There is no question of a bursting gas pipeline. There is also no paddy field in the picture which has been shown."
"The picture shows the Tejgaon industrial area and Matuail. It also shows a little bit of methane in the Gulshan area and southern part of the airport. It is not showing Aminbazar, but the south of Aminbazar. Therefore, it is not clear on what basis it has been said that four tons of methane are being emitted from Matuail," he said.
"Methane is a light gas which does not stay in one place; it moves in the air. When it rains, it falls to the ground," he added.
Saying that methane is very harmful in the atmosphere, he suggested it was important to learn the real picture of methane emissions. At the same time, he said that regular monitoring is needed to reduce it.
Dr Ainun Nishat said, "Methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in raising the temperature of the atmosphere. So, the emission of both gases should be reduced. It should be monitored regularly by the committee."
Shafiullah Siddique Bhuiyan, project director of Matuail landfill, said a preliminary feasibility study has been done on waste management of Matuail landfill.
The DSCC wants to move towards integrated waste management by conducting a detailed feasibility study.
"The feasibility of various things including e-waste management, converting waste to electricity,and compost fertiliser production will be assessed. Whatever is viable will be implemented," he added.