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Bangladesh - March 14, 2022

Old Dhaka to be changed

Plans block-based redevelopment

Mahfuja Mukul: Dhaka is at the bottom of the list of livable cities in the world. Old Dhaka is the most unplanned residential and commercial area in the capital. There are various problems including narrow roads and densely populated areas. It goes without saying that there are no civic facilities. The Rajdhani Unnyan Kartipakkya (RAJUK) has taken initiative to redevelop such an unplanned area on block basis. If it is implemented, old Dhaka will change. Residents will get modern address of residence.
Urban planners think that there are many obstacles in the implementation of this project. They say that old Dhaka is in a very low position in the livability index. The main reasons for this are overpopulation and overpopulation. However, redevelopment of old Dhaka is possible by ensuring civic amenities and services. Before that people need to be informed about its benefits. Confidence must be gained. In addition, timely completion of project work and development at a proportional rate should ensure the share of the property.
Compensation will have to be arranged for the land owners during the project.
To make Dhaka livable first (1995-2015) a detailed area plan (DAP) was taken. Although published in the form of DAP Gazette in June 2010, there were various inconsistencies in it. Later, the government formed a ‘cabinet committee’ with seven ministers to review the DAP. Then it was decided to amend DAP again. As a result, the plan did not materialize.
Later, in March 2015, RAJUK started the work of correcting the previous errors and formulating a people-friendly and realistic DAP (2016-2035) involving the local people. At the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on DAP Review held at the Secretariat on December 30 last year, the Local Government Minister Tajul Islamconfirmed that DAP was finalized. It was later sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval and comment.
When asked, RAJUK chairman ABM Amin Ullah Nuri told that RAJUK’s detailed zoning plan (DAP) called for redevelopment of old Dhaka. DAP is expected to be finalized or gazetted this month. Immediately after the gazette, steps will be taken to revive the heritage of old Dhaka.
He said innumerable multi-storied buildings are being constructed on one katha-two katha land of old Dhaka. It has also been seen to build two buildings on one wall. There is no light or air inside. Such small lands will be consolidated and redeveloped on block basis. In this case, the opinion of the people of old Dhaka will be given utmost importance.
Expansion of Old Dhaka with 11 wards of eight police stations of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). Its main areas are Lalbagh, Hazaribagh, Chawkbazar, Bangshal, Sutrapur, Sadarghat, Kotwali, Islampur, Babubazar, Wari, Gandaria, Shankharibazar, Golnagar, Laxmibazar, Tantibazar and Banglabazar. According to DAP statistics, in old Dhaka, 10.89 km below 5 feet wide,48.50 km of 5-10 feet, 32.64 km of 10-15 feet, 16.48 km of 15-20 feet, 12.38 km of 20-30 feet, 3.60 km of 30-50 feet, 50 to 100 feet wide. There are only 0.4 km of roads at a distance of 4.31 km and 100 feet wide, which is much less than the standard of a standard city.
Besides, according to DAP statistics, there are a total of 1,131.46 acres of land in Old Dhaka. Of these, 34.54 acres are for residential, 23.36 for mixed, 10.32 for transport and communication, 8.69 for education and research, 6.28 for commercial, 4.19 for community facilities and 3.73 for open space,2.16 percent is being used as reserved land, 2.6 percent as water body, 1.8 percent as industry, 0.49 percent as institutional, 0.31 percent as healthcare, 0.30 percent as vacant land and 0.14 percent as administrative land.
DAP recommendation for old Dhaka
There have been several complaints about old Dhaka in DAP. These include: preserving historical sites and facilities and turning them into tourism and recreation centers, creating cultural zones around the Buriganga River for old Dhaka, providing basic amenities in the area through land reclamation strategies in the process of cultural city restructuring.
Besides, there will be open space with adequate vegetation park and playground. However, now the population of old Dhaka is several times more than the standard. An ideal residential area is supposed to accommodate 120 people per acre. Now an average of 420 people are living in this area.
Existing problem of old Dhaka
What kind of problems are there in old Dhaka at present, it is mentioned in DAP. These include dilapidated buildings, narrow roads, risky electricity connections, inadequate water supply systems, faulty drainage systems, inadequate public open spaces, high density, poor living conditions, and the risk of earthquakes and fires. According to DAP, there are building construction rules for building buildings in the city.
But it was not accepted in these areas of old Dhaka. That’s what multi-storey buildings are like. They are not leaving room for the road. As a result, fire service and ambulance could not enter during the fire. In such a situation, block-based development is necessary by uniting the small plots of old Dhaka.
Abul Hashem, a resident of Gandaria in Old Dhaka, thinks that if these facilities are ensured, the existing buildings and infrastructure can be rebuilt and rearranged. He said it was important to ensure wide and planned road connectivity. This will reduce earthquakes and fire accidents.
Steps for project implementation
According to RAJUK sources, work on redevelopment of old Dhaka will start after the publication of DAP Gazette. First year: Feasibility study, detailed design, project approval and agreement with stakeholders. Second year: Mainly construction of commercial areas and roads. 3rd year: Completion of residential apartments, utility lights for the local community and 4th and 5th year ensuring community facilities including schools, colleges, mosques, playgrounds, recreation centers.
Main challenge in reconstruction
Urban experts are seeing several challenges in the implementation of this project. President of Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) Mohammad Fazle Reza Sumon said, “I have seen the government take many initiatives with Old Dhaka. But nothing like that was implemented. Traffic congestion is still the main problem in old Dhaka. Initiatives are needed to solve these problems. It is possible to solve this problem permanently, especially through redevelopment.
He said that before the implementation of the project, it is necessary to determine the initial financial fund and make arrangements for the initial rehabilitation of the citizens. The political commitment of the central government will also be required. Otherwise the implementation of the project will not be successful.
Ayesha Saeed, an alumnus in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne in Australia, told that each city has its own characteristics. However, in order to make it livable, redevelopment method can be adopted. In that case, each installation has to be redeveloped by preserving its own heritage.
When asked, Ashraful Islam, chief urban planner of RAJUK and project director of DAP, said that the development of old Dhaka must come in a block-based manner. There are such examples in many cities of the world. That is why we are going to take a project. After the DAP gazette, project preparation and project director (PD) will be appointed.
‘A comprehensive feasibility study consisting of physical and socio-economic survey, environmental and transport impact and social impact survey will be carried out to finalize the project area boundaries. Prior to that, project proposals need to be developed in consultation with homeowners. In this case, the work of the project will be started in coordination with Dhaka South City Corporation, WASA, Titas, DESCO and all concerned government departments and people’s representatives.

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