Decentralization is needed to save Dhaka
The densely populated Dhaka city is becoming increasingly uninhabitable and at the same time the city is losing its natural beauty and balance. Dhaka city seems to have become a state of pollution today due to congested environment, traffic jam and unplanned infrastructural construction. People are flocking to Dhaka like birds from all over the country for different purposes and are staying in this city necessarily or unnecessarily. Bangladesh is a populous country and if most of its people want to go to the capital, then it is easy to imagine how horrible the situation could be.
People from all walks of life come to Dhaka with an aim to earn more and lead a better life. Employees recruited from different parts of the country are eager to come to Dhaka and they do not hesitate to make various recommendations and lobbying for posting in Dhaka. Physicians do not want to stay in remote or rural areas of the country, they want to come to Dhaka city to earn more and continue private practice. Many parents in the country have a misconception that if they can send their children to any educational institution in Dhaka city, they will do much better and be blessed.
There is a tendency among small, medium and big businessmen to come to Dhaka city and by doing business they want to establish themselves overnight. But the question is why everyone should come to Dhaka? If other cities of the country can be made suitable for education, business and employment, then the pressure of Dhaka city will definitely decrease. The headquarters of various government and non-government offices are located in Dhaka, so people from different parts of the country have to travel to Dhaka for office work, but if the offices could be diverted to different district cities or local cities the pressure on Dhaka would be less.
The perimeter of Dhaka city is increasing and innumerable people are coming to Dhaka city every day and they have been staying for a long time and as a result of which Dhaka is not able to bear the burden of population. The idea of the poor people in the village is that since they do not have much work in their own area, if they come to Dhaka they will get a job and from this idea they move to Dhaka. Numerous shopping malls have sprung up in Dhaka city and people from all over the country flock to these shopping malls. Once someone comes to Dhaka, he does not want to return to his own village and although there are many complaints about Dhaka, no one is willing to leave Dhaka. There was a time when Dhaka city employees used to go back to their village homes after retiring from their jobs but now it is not seen that anymore.
The first census in the country was held in 1974 after independence and then the population of Dhaka was only 16 lakhs but today in the golden jubilee year of independence of Bangladesh the population of Dhaka city has gone above two crores and the suffering has increased. The population of Dhaka is increasing every day and at the same time the suffering of the people is increasing. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), 612,000 people are added to the city of Dhaka every year, which is 1700 people a day. If this continues, Dhaka will become the sixth largest megacity in the world by 2030.
Unplanned expansion is taking place every day in Dhaka city and the government has taken various initiatives to make it livable, but the people are not getting much benefit from it rather, the city is facing severe traffic jams, air pollution, waterlogging, waste mismanagement and various other problems. Urban planners say that if Dhaka's population continues to grow in this way, the problem will not diminish, but will only get worse. At present Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) consists of 75 wards and North City Corporation (DNCC) consists of 54 wards. DSCC has an area of 109.251 sq km and a population of 1crore 20 lakh and DNCC has an area of 196.22 sq km and a population of 80 lakh.
According to a survey by BBS and UNFPA in 2016, Dhaka is the 111th most populous city in the world, but if the population of Dhaka is calculated in terms of size, Dhaka is the most densely populated city in the world. It has a population of 43,500 people per square kilometer which is not found anywhere else in the world. Dhaka city has lost 85% of its wetlands in the last 50 years due to overpopulation. These wetlands have been filled with houses and various structures, resulting in waterlogging, traffic jams and excessive pollution.
About one and a half thousand factories have been set up in Dhaka city and about 9 lakh vehicles ply on the roads of Dhaka city every day. In 1975, the number of slum dwellers in Dhaka was 2.75 lakh but day by day about 3500 slums have been formed in Dhaka and according to the 2015 slum census, there are about 10 lakh 62 thousand slum dwellers. The population of Dhaka city is constantly increasing and they need houses and for this they need bricks. Numerous brick kilns have sprung up around Dhaka city and 58% of air pollution in Dhaka city comes from these brick kilns.
According to a statistic, Dhaka accumulates thirteen thousand tons of dust every month and the presence of maximum amount of lead in the dust on the streets of Dhaka has been noticed. It is harmful to health. According to a World Bank estimate, 5,000 tons of waste is generated daily in Dhaka from 7000 restaurants and about 24 lakh flats. A study has found that 24.5 per cent students in Dhaka have reduced lung capacity due to the severity of air pollution. According to the World Health Organization, nine square meters of open space is needed for every city dweller, but in Dhaka city it is just a fantasy. However, in such a situation in Dhaka, urban planners are talking about speedy implementation of DAP and at the same time emphasizing on decentralization.
Due to the large population of Dhaka city, the level of crime is even higher here. In order to make Dhaka livable, initiative must be taken to reduce the pressure of people on Dhaka. District cities need to build high quality healthcare, educational institutions, industries and employment opportunities.
The writer is an assistant professor,
B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola,