The agency responsible for the urban development of Dhaka is so unhappy with the lack of progress in the preparation of the new 20-year plan for the capital, it has reshuffled the committee in charge and extended the submission deadline until December.
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) formed a committee in 2015 to prepare a 20-year plan for Dhaka called ‘Preparation of DAP (2016-2035) for Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan (DMDP)’.
The committee started working on the project in March 2015 and was supposed to submit the complete plan for the two-decade period in March this year. However, a Rajuk official has anonymously told the Dhaka Tribune that the committee has “failed to deliver the plan in time”.
DAP is a crucial part of the DMDP; its purpose is to provide a systematic plan for modern living facilities in the ever-expanding capital. Rajuk, responsible for Dhaka’s development, periodically prepares and upgrades the DAP.
The aim of the new DAP is to cover all of the loopholes in DAP 2010-2015 that a government-appointed expert committee identified in 2013.
The committee, headed by prominent urban development expert and University of Asia Pacific Vice-Chancellor Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury, found that there were 2,724 structures, including residential and industrial constructions, within Rajuk jurisdiction which had been incorrectly categorised in the DAP 2010-2015.
“The original DAP 2016-2035 committee did not put enough focus on fixing those loopholes,” said the Rajuk official.
“Moreover, we have received complaints from several lawmakers that the old committee did not conduct proper surveys in many areas. Whatever plan they prepared was mostly desk work (and) that is why the Rajuk authorities rearranged the old committee.”
The new committee has nine months to come up with a proper DAP. Rajuk’s new initiative, however, has received mixed reactions from some urban experts.
“I have reservations about this new DAP,” Iqbal Habib, a prominent architect and member secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, told the Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
“Will the new committee take population density in each area within Rajuk jurisdiction into consideration? Will they test the quality of soil in these areas? These issues are important.
“For example, if the new DAP allows high-rise buildings in Purbachal area, that would be wrong, because in some areas of Purbachal the soil is loose and sandy – not suitable for building multi-storey buildings at all,” he said.
Dr Golam Moinuddin, associate professor of urban and regional planning at Jahangirnagar University, said that by the time a plan is finished, the condition of some land such as lowland filled with soil for construction in Dhaka may have changed.
“Rajuk works at a snail’s pace (and) this creates confusion,” he said.
Ashraful Islam, the project director of the new DAP 2016-2035 committee, said they would take all these issues into consideration.
“We have been visiting different areas for the past two months. We are also speaking with locals and public representatives so we can prepare a realistic and sustainable plan,” he told the Dhaka Tribune on Monday.