Thursday, 13 June, 2024, Reg No- 06
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Our urbanisation brings manifold challenges

Published : Sunday, 19 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 636

Our urbanisation brings manifold challenges

Our urbanisation brings manifold challenges

The capital Dhaka is the most populous city in the world. Many of the facilities that a modern urban system needs are missing here. Almost all essential services and opportunities, including education, health, post offices, courts, and employment, are centered in Dhaka, so people from remote areas of the country are constantly moving toward the capital. Moreover, people are leaving the cities and settling in the nearby divisional and district cities in the hope of similar services and opportunities. At the same time, due to urbanization, the population is increasing by leaps and bounds in other cities of the country. Urbanization is also happening rapidly. Along with that, various problems are increasing in the city. Apart from the gas-electricity crisis, vehicle crisis, water logging, pollution and traffic jams, water jams, and human entanglement, many new crises are sitting on the shoulders of city dwellers.

On the contrary, the plans that are being taken to protect the liveability of the city, are not timely, and their implementation is also taking a long time. As a result, cities are becoming more uninhabitable day by day. To solve this growing problem of the city, bringing Dhaka under circular road, sea, rail communication, planned development, education, health, employment, office, court transfer and new development in the districts and upazilas near the capital, making plans and making the district cities as hubs of the country must be implemented. Employment should be created at the district level. Balanced development by connecting the village with the district has become necessary. There is no substitute for sustainable and liveable urbanization.

Various initiatives are often organized by government and non-government organizations at different times to make the city liveable. A special conference titled Sustainable Urbanization: Problems and Solutions was held recently in this continuation. Almost the same opinion has emerged. On that occasion, CPD chairman distinguished economist Prof. Rehman Sobhan suggested, that traffic congestion is increasing as a result of over-urbanization and the risk of urbanization is increasing. Rapid urbanization is expanding due to a lack of coordination. People are being fooled by the flashy advertisements of housing companies. There also remains a shortage of civic amenities. Reminiscing, he said that when Abdus Salam Talukder of BNP was the local government minister, CPD talked to the mayors of four cities of the country. The objective was how to strengthen the countrys municipalities. Then the bureaucracy became an obstacle.

Taking the example of New York City in the United States, he said, "The mayor has control over everything from the police to the city." Dhaka does not have it. There was a planning commission during Bangabandhus reign. It is weakened by bureaucracy. Bangabandhu used a 1300 cc Toyota car. Now people are riding in Mercedes Benz-BMW in Dhaka city. But the city has become nasty.

Dhaka sometimes ranks top in the world in air pollution. Air pollution is reducing the average life expectancy of all people in the world by two years and four months. But six years and eight months are less in Bangladesh.

According to a statistic, 1,900 ponds have disappeared or disappeared from the capital in the last 33 years.

Unplanned urbanization, and encroachment Due to the huge housing demand, 1,900 public and private ponds and reservoirs of Dhaka have been wiped out in the last 33 years since 1985. The total land area of these ponds is 70 thousand hectares. These ponds were once a means of water retention. As a result, they played an important role in flood relief, fire fighting, and drinking water crises. According to the statistics of the Fisheries Department, around 1985, the total number of ponds in Dhaka was 2000. According to private estimates, it has reached one hundred so far this year. Although the actual number of ponds in Dhaka is not known to the two city corporations. A survey report of the Institute of Water Modelling has mentioned that more than 10,000 hectares of wetlands, canals, and lowlands of Dhaka have been lost in the last three and a half decades.

If this trend of reservoir filling continues, it is feared that by 2031, the number of reservoirs and lowlands in Dhaka will fall below 10 percent of the total area. It has been said that in 1978, the number of wetlands in Dhaka and surrounding areas was 2 thousand 952 hectares and the lowland was 13 thousand 528 hectares. At the same time canals and rivers were 2 thousand 900 hectares. The rainwater of the capital fell into the river through these canals. In 2014, the wetlands in Dhaka and its surroundings have decreased to 1,935 hectares, lowlands to 6,198 hectares, and rivers and canals to 1,200 hectares. That is, the reservoir has decreased by 34.45 percent in 35 years. During this period, the lowlands decreased by 54.18 percent and the rivers and canals decreased by 65.45 percent. In 2018, there were 100 ponds in the capital. In the last five years, one pond after another has been filled for various development works. Gradually, it now stands at only 29.

As a result, the fire service and civil defence have to get speed to get water supply in case of any fire in the capital. In this situation, the concerned parties urge to protect the reservoirs. Urban experts say that big buildings are being built in the city, but there is no environmentally friendly plan behind their construction. As a result, ponds-canals-bills-reservoirs are disappearing one after another. Although there are laws to protect reservoirs, they are not obeyed and housing is being built there one after another. Not only in Dhaka city but also outside Dhaka, the ponds are getting occupied one after another, filling up.

The ponds of Basila, Keraniganj, Ashulia, Savar, and Tongi areas around Dhaka are also disappearing. But the history of Dhaka says that once the canals of Dhaka were connected with the four surrounding rivers. Now most of these have disappeared and disappeared.

Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies chief executive and climate expert Dr. Atiq Rahmans opinion, wetlands are disappearing due to lack of integrated planning.

There was once a big reservoir inside Dhaka city. They are filled or occupied. Earlier there were many ponds but now they do not exist. To make the capital liveable, ensure complete health care in urban as well as suburban and rural areas at district and upazila levels. Taking strong measures to curb noise air pollution, and depollution by prioritizing sewage and waste management. In this case, stakeholders and public and private enterprises should take respectable measures in sewage disposal.  

Government should invest in making open spaces and playgrounds in the city, employment of floating and slum dwellers in the suburbs and neighbouring districts outside the capital, education, health care, communication, construction of office courts and provision of accommodation, emphasis on the construction of footpaths to decongest traffic, rationalization of bus routes and adequate provision in the city. It is important to provide hygienic public toilets, playgrounds and adequate water bodies.

The writer is a journalist and General Secretary, Bangladesh Climate Change Journalists Forum

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