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Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka population density likely to soar as building height limits relaxed

  • Maximum population density should be limited at 120 people per acre
  • Dhaka has already 600 people per acre 
  • Urban planners express concerns
Update : 02 Oct 2023, 12:17 AM

While Dhaka already grapples with an overwhelming population density of 600 people per acre, the government has made alterations to the Detailed Area Plan (DAP), permitting construction companies and landowners to erect taller buildings within the city.

According to the United Nations' guidelines for a healthy city, the maximum population density should be restricted to 120 people per acre.

In comparison, the world's largest city, Tokyo, housing 33 million people, accommodates 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 accommodates 112.

These facts underscore the stark disparity between Dhaka's current situation and global urban standards.

Urban planners have expressed concerns about the recent changes to the DAP, which were implemented just one year ago. They fear that if these relaxed regulations take effect, Dhaka will become less livable.

The relaxation appears to favor various stakeholders and influential groups that demanded a revision of the plan with significantly relaxed building height limits shortly after the DAP was officially gazetted last year.

The DAP was introduced in August last year to restore the livability of densely populated Dhaka.

However, under pressure from various quarters, a special concession was granted in September, affecting the height limits of buildings in just five locations, including the Bashundhara, Jalshiri, Jhilmil, and Gulshan residential areas.

Several changes have been made to the revised DAP, including building height limits and the floor area ratio (FAR), according to the Ministry of Public Works. Media reports suggest that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already approved the summary of the revised DAP, which is expected to be published in gazette form soon.

Rajuk has revised the Detailed Area Plan (DAP), introducing 11 changes, including an increase in the floor area ratio (FAR) for buildings in housing projects.

This increase in FAR will allow real estate developers to construct taller buildings than before.

The residents of Dhaka 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 exacerbate these existing crises, pushing Dhaka, already ranked as one of the world's least livable cities, even deeper into a dire crisis.

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 iteration, came into effect six years behind schedule, as the previous 1995–2015 plan was implemented in 2010 and ended in 2015.

Although the authorities have the power to review the DAP every three years to update it through a proper procedure, the 2016–35 DAP review gazette notification was published on September 24, within one year of its adaptation.

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