Staff Correspondent: The revision of the Dhaka’s development master plan, designed to guide the city’s growth over the next two decades, occurred without following the proper procedure.
This move appeared, according to urban planners, to favour landowners and real estate developers, exacerbating the already severe civic facility shortages and chaos in an overcrowded city.
Urban planners expressed concerns and said that the updated DAP would not only increase building heights but also raise population density in the already densely populated capital.
Dhaka’s residents have long grappled with acute shortages of essential services, crippling traffic congestion, frequent water stagnation, and crises in healthcare and education, among other challenges.
The influx of additional residents into the city is expected to worsen these existing crises, further pushing Dhaka, which is already ranked as one of the world’s least liveable cities, even deeper into a dire crisis.
To put the population density in perspective, Dhaka currently has a staggering 600 people per acre.
According to the United Nations’ guidelines for a healthy city, the maximum population density should be capped at 120 people per acre.
Comparatively, the world’s largest city, Tokyo, with a population of 33 million, houses fewer than 90 people per acre. High-rise cities like Singapore boast a density of 80 people per acre, while Sydney maintains a density of 58 and New York 112.
These figures underscore the stark disparity between Dhaka’s current situation and global urban standards.
‘It is unacceptable to review a 20-year planning document for the capital within one year of its adaptation and before an assessment of its implementation on the ground,’ said JahangirnagarUnivesity urban planning professor Akter Mahmud.
He said that the highly technical planning document was reviewed without consultation with professionals to give advantages for land owners and realtors. Several members of the DAP review committee confirmed that the review was done without any consultation with them as no meeting was held with them since the formation of the committee in January.
The government published the gazette notification on the Detailed Area Plan 2016-35 for Dhaka Metropolitan Region in August 2022.
The 2016-35 DAP, the second DAP, came into effect six years after the scheduled time as the previous 1995-2015 plan came into effect in 2010 and ended in 2015.
The 2016-35 DAP review gazette notification was published on September 24, within one year of its adaptation. Although, the authorities are empowered to review the DAP in every three years to update it through a proper procedure.
City planning authority RajdhaniUnnayanKartipakkha officials said that only 50 building designs were approved since the adaptation of the new DAP.
The DAP has been adapted for 1,528 square kilometres covering Dhaka metropolitan area and its outskirts, including parts of Gazipur, Savar and Narayanganj.
Institute for Planning and Development in an observation over the revised DAP expressed concerned and said that the DAP was reviewed under pressure from vested interests and that would intensify the civic problems and deteriorate liveability of the already overloaded city.
In the revised DAP, the government increased the floor area ratio – the measurement of a building’s floor area in relation to the size of the land of the building.
It will benefit the construction companies as they will get an additional height of their building even if it is located beside a narrow road, urban planners said.
‘Compromising liveability, additional floor area ratio is ensured for developers in the revised DAP,’ said IPD executive director and Jahangirnagar University urban planning professor Adil Mohammad Khan.
He said that the DAP review would question the commitment of the government to make the city liveable for all.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology urban and regional planning professor Musleh Uddin Hasan said that he was one of the 11-member committee for the DAP review but the committee held no meeting.
‘I don’t know how it was revised and who did it,’ he said.
Institute of Architects Bangladesh also prepared some recommendations for the DAP review but the reviewed DAP was published without its consultation.
Architect Iqbal Habib said that developers’ demands were met in the DAP review, but public demands were ignored.
The review has brought about major changes to seven clauses of the DAP mostly related to floor area ratio, which is in other word rise in building height.
Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh president AlamgirShamsulAlaminKajal, however, said that the reviewed DAP was better than the original one, which was ‘faulty’.
He said that the floor area ratio was increased considering the reality of the city.
He said that before the review the DAP cut down floor area ratio to a half compared with the previous one and now the ratio reached a rational level.
State minister for housing and public works Sharif Ahmed declined to comment over phone on the DAP review saying that the prime minister would brief on this.
Rajuk chairman MdAnisur Rahman Miah also declined to comment saying that he was yet to go through the revised documents.
Staff Correspondent : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the people of the country not…