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Our city needs planning, not punishment

  • Published at 12:00 am September 1st, 2016
Our city needs planning, not punishment

There is none other but Rajuk to be blamed for Dhaka’s current situation.

Since the Holey Artisan attack, continuous eviction drives in and around the city have led to loss of employment for many, and crores in losses for businesses. Rajuk must recognise that it is its own inability to make modern and adequate plans for Dhaka that has led our capital to this predicament.

Removing schools, universities, and restaurants now, for which in many cases multiple government authorities had given permission. There is no co-ordination between government institutions, as a result of which, it is the people who suffer.

It is fine to follow the letter of the law, but when a law is so patently athwart the public good, it is important to revise the law and to do so with urgency. Forcible implementation of laws that defy good sense does no one any good.

Rajuk has continued with the eviction drive despite repeated warnings from leading experts in the field, such as architects, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

A good example of Rajuk’s immense blunder is Dhanmondi, which was initially planned for a little over a thousand plots, but when apartment blocks were being approved, each plot was housing 20 families or more.

Not only has this led to Dhanmondi becoming severely congested as an area, but also one which has not experienced a commensurate increase in commercial spaces. As a result, many  “illegal” establishments have sprung up to meet essential needs of the communities.

No one wants to see rampant growth of commercial spaces in residential areas either. It is high time for policies that would embrace the concept of mixed use neighbourhoods for real. Capacity for schools can be capped -- by number of seats, say -- based on plot size, built space, parking space, width of road in front, and access to outer roads.

No one would object to the eviction of establishments that fail to meet the conditions of smart ratios and set and sensible fees. But keeping one of the world’s most populous capitals on tenterhooks with periodic eviction drives is absurd.

Rajuk needs to plan out the city that is Dhaka as a holistic entity in conjunction with other government bodies, and all stakeholders, so that, ultimately, it is the citizens who are benefitted. Continuously wreaking havoc on the lives of those who keep this city running will achieve nothing at all, in the long run or short.