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Voicing your opinion on DAP

  • Published at 10:16 pm September 14th, 2020
Voicing your opinion on DAP

The latest DAP is kept as realistic as possible with a focus on preserving the environmental aspects of Dhaka

“Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?” — It is a question that almost every person dreads being asked but it is a question that many have faced throughout their lives, perhaps even more than once if they are unfortunate enough. For some, the answer has always been crystal clear while others grasp at straws trying to figure it out. So, it can be assumed that planning out the next 20 years for anyone or anything can be a monumental task to accomplish — but on the scale of a city, it goes beyond the consideration of a mammoth task.

Yet, it is, or at least something similar,being done almost all over the world to map out the urban development of major cities thanks to scores of brilliant engineers, architects, city planners and policymakers. The goal of these plans is to create a roadmap which can be followed for successful growth of urbanization and to make the city more liveable — a goal that is shared by the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), the makers of the Detailed Area Plan (DAP), or as it was formerly known as, Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan (DMDP).And recently, after much deliberation and revisions, the DAP 2016-2035 is nearing its final stage.

However, as the gazette has finally been passed and the notification sent out, the plan has been shared with everyone so that citizens and concerned individuals with a stake in the city plan can send their valuable feedback before it can officially come into force.

Unfortunately, like many intricate and complex things, the DAP 2016-2035 has been a long time coming. Even though we are way past the tenure of the previous DAP, which expired in 2016,which is still in effect until a new one replaces it.This is why experts and planners have been working for years to hammer out the details that are realistic as well as impactful but up until now had not yielded proper results.

In 2017,a Dhaka Tribune article had stated that the new DAP is likely to come into force in 2018. Yet, here we are, nearing the end of 2020 — two years further than it was predicted in that article — and still waiting for it to pass. The good news is, though, this latest draft is considered to be the “final version” of this edition of DAP and may come into effect as soon as people voice their opinions about it.

The latest DAP is kept as realistic as possible with a focus on preserving the environmental aspects of the overall Dhaka metropolitan area as well as managing the growth of the urban landscape as the previous version of DAP — or the DMDP —has been largely considered to be ineffective by many.The aim this time around is to redevelop existing crowded urban areas, discourage individual housing projects or “plot-based projects” in favour of “block-based projects,”more open spaces, playgrounds, wetlands and agricultural lands — elements necessary for making Dhaka a more liveable city for this and all coming generations.

Dhaka Metropolitan has been extended from 1,432 square kilometres to 1,528 square kilometres in size in the new version of DAP as parts of Gazipur City corporation and Dhamsona union of Savar was added. The DAP also divides Dhaka into six regions which include the central Dhaka area (Central region), some parts of Gazipur (Northern region), Narayanganj (Southern region), Savar (Western region), Rupganj and Kaliganj (Eastern region) and Keraniganj (South-Western region).

These regions are further subdivided into 75 sub-regions which extensively detail the usage distribution of land for various purposes, their network of roads, educational institutions and community features, current and future expected populations, current pressing issues, and their proposed solutions. The plan also proposes land usage distribution and road networks necessary that will be built in the next 20 years. Uttara, for example, is poised to see 7.55 kilometres of roads being built and 49.33 kilometres of road widening.

The plan is also to manage the growth of the urban landscape of the capital (with the help of the Dhaka Structure Plan 2016-2035) instead of letting it grow uncontrollably — which has been the case for the better part of the last four centuries.According to the Dhaka Structure Plan, 27.83% of the land has been set as“Conservation area” where no new major construction will be permitted while existing rural homesteads exist if they themselves do not try to make major changes.

On the other hand, large portions of Savar, Narayanganj, and the Eastern segment of the Central Urban Area, such as Badda, Dakkhinkhan and Uttarkhan, have been designated as “Growth Management Areas” where planned urban development can take place — opening the gate for significant gains for real estate investors.

The Detailed Area Plan 2016-2035 also takes some necessary steps to rectify a major oversight of the Dhaka Building Construction Act of 2008 which does not properly specify conditions for construction of homes by lower and lower-middle-income citizens. As a result, squatters and similar housing solutions tend to get away with having an increased amount of residents without any complication.

According to the plan, about 84% of buildings in Dhaka are one story tall — most of which belong to these income-levels of people. And since they constitute a majority of the population of Dhaka, the new DAP has places of significant importance in discussing and setting which types of homes can be classified as belonging to lower-level income people, the FAR (Floor to Area Ratio), structure, etc.

Another highlighting point of the DAP has been the conservation of water retention bodies throughout the metropolitan. The current state of these water bodies is dire due to decades of encroachment and unplanned construction and filling by both public and private organizations. As a result, a number of locations regularly experience waterlogging due to rain. The drains were designed to handle 55 millimetres of rain but when it rains about 100 millimetres of rain, the city floods in just a few hours.

Rajuk plans to increase the amount of water retention bodies from 706 hectares to 2,940 hectares — four times as much constituting about 9.5% of the total area of the city– across 26 points by renovating and protecting existing bodies while also protecting the foreshore of the rivers.

The DAP also has major plans for the Central Urban Area of Dhaka,restructuring existing roads to be wider and redeveloping infrastructure.About 90% of roads are less than 20 feet according to the plan, which violates the construction of high-rise buildings across many locations in the capital. Almost all the sub-regions of Dhaka will see their roads widen while the majority will see the construction of new roads to some extent.

The Old Dhaka will be “redeveloped” while still preserving heritage sites and the extended portions of Dhaka will see rapid development in this regard. The Purbachal New Town project in the Eastern region will be one of the major outer urban areas of Dhaka including Siddhirganj in the Southern region, Savar Sadar in the Western region and Tongi and Gazipur in the Northern region.

There is much more emphasis on land usage in the new DAP than there was in the previous version. The plan is to enforce strict usage of land as they are identified. For example, the authorities have categorized about 44% of land throughout the Dhaka Central region for mixed usage while 17.05% of the land will be used for residential only. The mixed-use portions can be residential leaning or commercial leaning with some or equal amounts of residential or commercial space present.

Property construction will be monitored for every area, according to the DAP, and exceeding the allocated amount will not be permitted — which will ensure the original purpose and plan for each area remains intact and development of those said areas can progress accordingly unlike previous urban development paths that have historically followed a more “organic” route.

All of the 75 sub-regions within the Dhaka metropolitan area have been detailed in the DAP with its allocated land usage. The maps of each region properly highlight which segments will be or can be of what use — sometimes even at a plot level. The TOD (Transit-oriented development) regions, which were planned and identified in accordance with the Dhaka Structure Plan (2016-2035,) in the DAP is also instrumental for real estate investors and home buyers that highlight highly-valuable land that is close to future major transportation junctions.

The DAP 2016-2035 is complex, intricate and full of, well, details. The plan requires a thorough and patient look to get a full grasp of what to expect for the city in the next two decades. As citizens of the city, it is important to know and understand what will be going on and voice your opinion — a chance that everyone has been given by Rajuk. As such, every citizen of this capital should read the finalized version of DAP 2015-2035, which is available on the Rajuk website, and voice their opinions and protests because it is the future of their city that is currently at stake.

This article is being published under special arrangement as part of a partnership with Bproperty