BD Post Report
Bangladesh has become a middle income country. International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described the country’s growth as ‘very promising right now’. It has at present over 7 percent growth rate which any third world economy can boast of. More and more high-rise buildings and flyovers are being constructed in Dhaka keeping pace with the country’s development.
But, one might ask, what the news brings to the people of Dhaka where at present about 12 percent of the country’s total population are living in. With daily life becoming more and more unbearable in the city due to the never-ending traffic jam and severely polluted environment, what solace a news of economic growth can bring to a city dweller of Dhaka?
What is of great concern is that the living standard and environment of the capital is worsening day by day. All the playgrounds have vanished into the thin air. Buriganga, Turag and Balu – all the three rivers flowing beside the city have turned into the dumping ground of factory and human wastages; due to the terrible stench coming out of the water the river banks have become the last place one can think of to take a stroll for fresh air.
The city is spreading at all directions without any plan to make space for its ever-increasing population. Every year Dhaka’s population is increasing by 5 percent.
Absence of a well thought out elaborate plan needed for accommodating this huge population is pushing the situation more and more to a point of no return. Dhaka has become one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a density of 23,234 people per square kilometer within a total area of 300 square kilometers.
According to the Global Liveability Ranking, out of 140 cities, Dhaka is the second worst livable city in the world. Thanks God for the improvement, as only a year ago, it was the most unlivable city in the same ranking.
Lack of playground and sufficiently spacious streets, negligence of environmental condition in infrastructure development, lack of effective sewerage system, and above all, destruction of ‘heart of the city’ Buriganga have raised a big question of sustainability before the achievement of economic growth as well as the development works being carried out without following any master plan.
All the development works in Dhaka are being carried out without any long term plan. Without considering the long term impacts, more and more residential and commercial areas are being constructed filling water bodies and playgrounds. Almost no piece of land has been spared in Dhaka and its adjacent areas.
In this regard, Nagar Gobeshona Kendra Chairman and also an eminent city planner Professor Nazrul Islam told the Bangladesh Post: “Dhaka has passed several decades as the capital of the country. A city cannot be built without following a particular master plan. We have failed to bring all the development activities centering the city under a carefully formulated detailed master plan.”
“The process of formulating Dhaka Development Plan is being stuck for more than a decade. A plan proposed by RAJUK is waiting for approval at the ministry since long. As a result, Dhaka is becoming what becomes of an unplanned city,” he added.
He also said, “Due to influence of globalisation, market demands and economic activities, people from across the country are coming towards Dhaka. More than 20 million people are living in a city of 300 square kilometers, with almost no visible foot path or sufficient number of streets for their movement.”
Chief Engineer of Local Government Engineering Department Iftekhar Ahmed told the Bangladesh Post: “To make sustainable development, a central policy is must. All the countries in the world have such a policy. Development initiatives are taken in those countries following that policy. In short, to build a city without problems there is no alternative to forming a central city development policy.”