Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh has grown into a busy city of near about 11 million people and the city covers almost 816 square kilometers. The city is one of cities of highest population growth in the world. Photo by Amdadul Huq, DRIK News
Bangladesh capital Dhaka is fast turning into a dirty, filthy, noisy, polluted city. Those of us who have experience of living in Dhaka since late sixties can not imagine how the city has grown into slum over the last 4 decades. A green and beautiful historic city is living dangerously with all kinds of human created nuisances.
Dhaka, a city of 1.75% the size of Melbourne, Australia is nearing the population of entire Australia. Serious gas, electricity, water crisis, massive traffic congestion, water logging after mild to moderate rain, air pollution, noise pollution, mosquito menace deteriorating law & order situation, off and on stall city life to virtual standstill. Government after government talk of remedial measures but fail to do anything. Rather unplanned growth and development complicates situation, compounds problem. Rivers around city are almost dead, city canals are non existent. Threats of massive earthquake are looming large. We know about these problems. Let us not look back. Let us see what can be done to confront the crisis at hand.
Decentralization and Digitization:
The present government is committed to implement their digital Bangladesh. In this modern age of technology boom is it necessary that all government ministries should remain confined in one place Bangladesh secretariat. Much of the Dhaka City Congestion will be eased if government ministries can be spread over and across Dhaka City Suburbs and adjoining districts. Narayanganj, Savar, Keraniganj and Gazipoor can be ideal location for relocating several ministries.
Only Defense, Finance, Planning, Home, Information and Foreign Affairs ministry can retain their office in Dhaka and other ministries may be moved out in phases to places outside Dhaka. These ministries can be connected via fiber optic cables and secure VPN… then we are talking about a really digital Government of Bangladesh.
Energy & Power, Communication, Forest & Environment, Food and Agriculture Ministry can go to Gazipur, Port & Shipping, Textile; Jute & Industry can go to Narayanganj. Health, Education, Labour & Manpower, Science & Technology, Youth and Sports can go to Savar. Commerce, Land, Cultural affairs ministry can be relocated to Keraniganj. Why CHT affairs ministry can not be based at Rangamati? Once relocated after setting up infrastructures the existing facilities of these ministries can be appropriately used. Gazipur, Savar and Narayanganj can have better road and other communications. E-Governance can be put in place.
Then gradually all Garments factories, leather industry and other polluting industries must be moved out of Dhaka to specific locations. Major portion of Garments industries can go to Keraniganj and Gazaria Garments pally, Leather industry to Leather complex at Nabinagar. Government must clean residential areas like Dhanmondi, Banani, Gulshan, Uttara, Malibagh, and Lalbagh from all kinds of commercial activities.
It is appropriate time to relocate BDR Headquarter and Army Headquarter to appropriate place outside Dhaka. These two establishment situated in congested city area are causing serious bottlenecks for traffic movement. Wonder why democratic government can not take such decision. What useful purpose these establishments are serving to national cause occupying vintage areas in Dhaka city. Why Dhaka Cantonment can not go to Gazipur and BDR Head Quarter to Keraniganj?
Simultaneous to above actions government must connect Narayanganj, Savar, Gazipur and Keraniganj with Dhaka through elevated express highways and fast moving railway. Some multi-storied parking facilities must be set up in city centres. More long body natural gas powered buses should be introduced and all old polluting vehicles , slow moving human haulers , mini taxi cabs must be removed as soon as possible. 50% of the city congestion and 50% load on city utilities will be relieved this way. In the meantime government must move positively to free city canals and city surrounding rivers of unauthorized occupations, save rivers of pollutions, undertake massive dredging and excavation to retrieve all season navigability. City circular rail, road and River communication must not remain a dream any more. We should do everything possible to confine Dhaka population below 10 million under any circumstances. Otherwise whatever we do and whatever we plan nothing will work to improve traffic congestion and serious energy crisis.
Prime Minister chairs Cabinet meetings regularly. These meetings occasionally must also be held outside Dhaka to address the problems there. Government must try to cut down its size. Government must not involve in day to day business of SOEs. Government’s role must be confined to policy making and auditing performance of SOEs. SOEs must run corporate business commercially and governed by their board of directors. Private sector must be the driving force. Independent regulators must regulate all businesses through transparent policies.
It is unfortunate to accept that our loving city Dhaka is the dirtiest and noisiest capital city of the world. We must act positively rising above all political divide to rescue Dhaka from current unbearable situation.
If major government offices including BDR and Army installations can be moved out of Dhaka in phases as suggested and if ready-made garments, leather industries can also be relocated we can gradually make Dhaka habitable for all and return to old lovely Dhaka that we can all take pride on.