Rajuk’s new initiative to decorate old Dhaka
Roshan Habib lives on rent in a house on Chowk Circular Road in Chowkbazar area of Old Dhaka. He takes seven people including his wife, children and parents in two small houses. Roshan works as a manager in a local shop.
Like Roshan, most of the residents of old Dhaka were forced to live in such a cramped environment. From low-income settlements to multi-storied buildings, the situation is not much different. There are rows of multi-storied buildings on both sides of Chawkbazar Water Works Road. There is hardly any space between the buildings built on small plots. Most of the buildings are old, dilapidated. Residents are also deprived of various civic facilities including adequate light and air in the building.
Local people say that this area is associated with the foundation of Dhaka city. It also has century old buildings. At that time the concept of planned urbanization was absent. So the situation is like this. They say that due to the stuffy environment, they do not get light and air in the house. Children and teenagers also spend most of their time at home. Because there are not enough sports fields and parks in the area.
On Monday yesterday, images were found of people walking around and talking to local people in other areas including Chawkbazar of Old Dhaka. The Capital Development Authority (RAJUK) was responsible for developing the area in a planned way.
Rajuk says that old Dhaka was developed in an unplanned way long before their activities started. Now the organization wants to decorate other parts of Old Dhaka including Chawkbazar. For this, the organization has initiated a project titled ‘Dhaka City Redevelopment’. Meanwhile, its pre-development project proposal has been passed. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has promised to finance it.
According to Rajuk, one strategy for building a planned city is ‘urban redevelopment’. The concept is new in our country. However, it is a widely used strategy in developed countries including Japan, South Korea, Singapore. Through this strategy unplanned cities or densely populated areas divided into small plots are completely renovated or partially redeveloped to ensure civic amenities. In this case, the whole area is planned by collecting small plots and new infrastructure is built according to the plan.
Rajuk also says that in the implementation of this plan, a land owner voluntarily or through a project taken by a public-private organization agrees to implement the project by pooling the land. In this case, the land owners get facilities at a proportional rate according to the share of the land after the implementation of the project.
Those concerned with Rajuk say that seven areas of old Dhaka have been identified as part of the urban redevelopment project. Along with Rajuk, Dhaka South City Corporation will coordinate this work. Dhaka North City Corporation has also shown interest in this project.
Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) president Mohammad Fazle Reza Sumon welcomed this initiative. He said that it is difficult to increase the livability and civic amenities of Old Dhaka without the redevelopment project. If such a project is not implemented, Dhaka city will be the “champion” in the list of cities that are not suitable for buses in the future.
Dhaka has already been ranked seventh from the bottom (unlivable) in the list of livable cities. Dhaka ranks 166th out of 172 cities in the 2022 index of the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) includes Old Dhaka. According to a study done by BIP in 2020, according to the civic amenities planning criteria, the maximum of one and a half lakh people should live in Old Dhaka according to the current civic amenities. But about eight lakh people live in this area.
Urban experts believe that civic services are also strained due to extra people.
BIP president Mohammad Fazle Reza Sumon said, “If there are more people in an area than the expected population, naturally there is a strain on all kinds of civic facilities including education, health, environment, water and gas.”
According to BIP data, Old Dhaka needs 128 government primary schools according to its population. But there are 38 in that area. Higher secondary schools need 64, there are only 4.
There are only 2 out of 27 required colleges. On the other hand, there are 5 to 6 playgrounds in Old Dhaka, big and small. The total area of these fields is 11 and a half acres. But for the proper management of children and youth sports in this area, at least 128 fields are required, with a minimum total area of 128 acres.