With a current population of nearly 164.7 million, the cities across Bangladesh are rapidly changing with urbanisation. Buildings, high rising apartments and towers stand tall and cover the sky. However, most of these do not follow the rules of urban planning and are built whimsically by the owners. Canals and paddy fields have been taken over by developers and lowlands and ponds are being filled up with sand. Parks are swallowed by shopping malls and the children are forced to stay home. The only greenery is spotted in verandahs and flower pots. Unplanned urbanisation has also brought about problems of drainage, over population, urban poverty, waste mismanagement and many more. As the area of the capital is expanding, so are increasing these problems.
One major issue related to unplanned urbanisation is that it creates lopsided development. For example, the roads and buildings in Gulshan or Banani are significantly different than those in Mohammadpur. Not only that, the urban planning in a few other elite areas also maintains building codes etc which many other developing areas absolutely do not abide by. As the lower-middle income groups are increasing in number, so are slums or one room housings which are scattered around Dhaka.
Narrow lanes often block the mobility of ambulances, and only last week, an entire family died by a gas explosion in the kitchen. The picture of the bedroom showed a tiny room crammed with furniture and the only window obstructed by a neighbour’s wall. Experts predict that a major catastrophe like an earthquake can shake the city to its core and demolish half of it.
Urban development will of course take place at its own pace but as our cities will grow, the suburbs should be developed accordingly. The challenges to ameliorate the situation are many and unless stricter policies are implemented, the living standard and the quality of life of the urban dwellers may not improve in future.