To reduce growing burden on Dhaka, suburban areas surrounding the capital need to be urgently developed equipping with modern facilities, including good educational institutions, job and healthcare facilities etc, experts said.
Sujaul Islam Khan, an urban expert, said, “Besides, if the district towns and the upazila headquarters can be developed, it will be then possible to turn the megacity Dhaka into a liveable one.”
Otherwise, no plan to address the existing problems of the city, like residence crisis, traffic congestion and pollution, will come out successful,” said Mr Khan on Sunday while speaking at a programme at House and Building Research Institute in Mirpur where Urban Development Directorate organised a discussion marking the ‘World City Day 2018’.
Referring to the Dhaka Area Plan (DAP) survey, the participating experts said, in the capital, more than 80 per cent jobholders are engaged in informal employment without having any appointment letter, trade license or any such document in support of their job and are living on a low income.
Besides, a large part of the employees having formal employments like office assistant, cleaning staff, and even garments workers are also leading a similar socio-economic life, said the experts.
They said only 10 per cent of Dhaka roads have a width above 20 feet whereas the vast 90 per cent have less than 20 feet. On the other hand, 95 percent of households do not have a personal vehicle and more than half of the lower and lower middle income people still have to walk on foot, they added.
They also said the average income of the top 10 per cent people is 32 times more than the bottom 10 per cent while one third of the total
population live in slums and another one third lives below the poverty line. Therefore, a personal house for the low and middle income groups is still out of their capacity, the experts said.
They added there had been 65 canals in total in Dhaka city in 1970 but at present there are only 26. During the period from 1978 to 2009, wetlands in the capital have reduced to 10.28 square kilometres from 29 sqkm.
The experts opined that the total area of mandatory open spaces, like parks, playing fields, stadiums etc, for the capital is currently less than 1 per cent of the original DAP area.
Also, in terms of air pollution, the city appeared on different international rankings as one of the top three polluted cities around the world. 45 percent of solid waste of the city is not still collected, most of which are dumped into nearby lowlands, canals and rivers resulting in creating huge pollution, said the experts.
Experts, however, suggested for an effective network of connectivity to foster a safe and efficient movement of people and goods and contribute to Dhaka’s economy.
Sujaul Islam Khan said, “We should chart out a plan for development of the urban and village areas surrounding the capital to minimise the population pressure and traffic jams. If we couldn’t implement the plan, the sufferings of the city dwellers will be multiplied day by day.”
Dr Khurshid Jabin Hossen Towfiq, director of Urban Development Directorate, presided over the programme while several urban experts were also present among others.