Ever since its announcement, the Purbachal New Town project has ignited a lot of interest among the population of the country
The World Bank report titled “Toward Great Dhaka” that was published in June last year made the eastern portion of the city its main focus. The makers of the report understood the potential of the land, and how much impact it can and will have on the future of Dhaka as the city prepares to decentralize. And at the forefront of that decentralization is none other than the Rajuk Purbachal township project, sitting like the proverbial crown jewel within East Dhaka.
Going back a few decades, the low-lying flood-prone lands of the eastern portion of Dhaka were barely considered “valuable” in terms of Dhaka’s growth. And even though there were plans to build embankments along the Balu River, the plans were never followed through. For decades, the vast regions of East Dhaka were underdeveloped and received little attention. However, that started to change with the much-needed Purbachal New Model Town initiative. As the central and western zones of Dhaka became more and more crowded, and the availability of high-quality urban land diminished, the city needed new urbanization opportunities to accompany the ongoing Uttara township project in housing the growing population, as well as rectifying the previous mistakes in city planning.
A step in the right direction
Be it necessity, desperation or resolution, the development of Rajuk Purbachal township is rapidly underway after a delayed start. The massive 6,000+ acre area between the Balu River and the Shitalakkhya River is being prepared to house 1.5 million people in 26,000 residential plots and 62,000 flats along with all the necessary infrastructure and urban facilities. And they are doing it by filling up the area with sand and undertaking wide-spread infrastructural developments. Major roads and highways are now being constructed where there used to be none. In fact, there were no formal major roadways to speak of in East Dhaka prior to the Purbachal New Town initiative.
The first visible development of the township came in the form of the Purbachal Link Road, or as it is more commonly referred to locally, the 300 Feet Road – the name it received due to its width. The road had a much greater impact than anyone could foresee. While the original intention of the 300 Feet Road was to connect the Purbachal New Town to the rest of the city, the corridor opened up the entire East Dhaka for private development. And at the moment, there are about 19 major real estate development projects underway within East Dhaka by different private investors – all surrounding the fervor of Purbachal New Town – some, like Bproperty Village, are next to the Rajuk project while others are a bit farther away.
The Rajuk Purbachal township project, which properly began in 2003, started allocating plots to designated owners just a few years ago and the area has since seen erection of boundaries and walls around many of the turned over plots. But even before there was any significant progress, private investors began initiating their own projects. As a result, while Rajuk – the authority responsible for the development of the township – made significant strides in preparing the land by filling it up with sand, it is the private investors and their projects that have contributed, and continue to, much more in terms of transforming the rest of East Dhaka. However, in fairness, none of it would be possible without the infrastructural developments undertaken by the public sector. Developments such as the construction of roads, bridges and utilities continue to increase the livability of the entire region.
Speaking of which, the Purbachal New Town was or is intended to be a “model” self-contained area, free from excess pollution, organized and, most of all, congestion-free – something that the rest of Dhaka has been terribly suffering from. To that end, both the township and many other privately initiated projects will enjoy the benefit of having several major roadways connecting to the inside and outside of the city. Roads such as the 180-foot Dhaka city bypass road, the 150-foot Dhaka-Sylhet road and the transcontinental Asian Highway will also pass through the region. The inner roads of the projects are also intended to be about 40-60 feet wide – even wider in some areas. Furthermore, one of the Mass Rapid Transit lines or metro rails will connect East Dhaka with several major locations of Central and West Dhaka including Gulshan and Mirpur – not to mention that the 300 Feet Road already connects the region to the Shahjalal International Airport as well as Uttara and Bashundhara Residential Area. Connectivity has been a major focus in developing East Dhaka since the objective is to decentralize and unclog the persisting traffic problems of existing Dhaka. And as far as infrastructure goes, many of the 30 sectors in Purbachal New Town have already functioning electricity and sewage systems. Stocking of LP gas is also about to begin – sufficient enough to keep the estimated population of 1.5 million supplied. And the recently signed China-Bangladesh joint venture to implement a mega water project will supply water through 15 deep tube wells until the completion of another project to bring in water from the Meghna River. As soon as the entire township receives the necessary utilities, the rest of the region won’t be too far behind – allowing private development pace to increase even further.
Ever since its announcement, the Purbachal New Town project has ignited a lot of interest among the population of the country. The promise of “Model” city that would surpass all the achievements of even Uttara and deliver a comfortable, organized and modernized locale has attracted people from all walks of life. The plan to move or open several government and educational institutions has piqued the interest of businesses as well as foreign bodies. The proposed diplomatic zone in the Purbachal area will have the American embassy as well as other major consulates – for which the government has promised to ensure an even stricter and safer area. Two police lines, four police stations and establishing a new fire department HQ will provide 24/7 security to the entire area. The planned commercial zones, residential zones, diplomatic zones, stadiums, parks, entertainment zone have all made Purbachal New Town something of a golden goose.
Land prices have soared not just in the township, but also in surrounding areas. The demand for land in the township project was so high that the government had to implement a sort of “lottery” to determine who could buy the plots there. As it stands, the approximate average price of land in Purbachal New Town is about Tk60 lac, as per Bproperty’s database – whereas the original pricing was around 1 lac. And if the plot is located in a great location, the price per katha will be much higher. However, even at 60 or 80 lac, finding plots to buy is rare. Everyone understands the value these lands hold and will have in the future. That is why very few owners are willing to sell theirs.
As such, many are looking towards nearby private projects. The closer they are, the more valuable they become. The running notion is (quite logically) that being next to the Purbachal New Town will allow them the luxury of enjoying the comforts of their project as well as the facilities available at the township next door. These private projects have different rates for their plots, ranging from very high to moderate. But overall, the land prices throughout East Dhaka have been rising and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Ever since the most ambitious town planning development project of the country started, the eastern region of Dhaka has seen unprecedented development take place – which was unimaginable back in the day. The impact of the Rajuk Purbachal township is still being measured as the progress continues. While the eastern expansion of Dhaka was always inevitable – necessary for the continuation of Dhaka’s growth as a megacity – the march has been sped up due to high demand. As we embark on a new decade, the entire country and the world will be keeping an eye on the location to see how urbanization ensues.