THE government's decision to allow private housing development on conservable flood flow zones in Rupganj and Tongi has got environmentalists up in arms. The alterations being proposed to the Master Plan of the city are dubbed as “suicidal” by environmentalists who contend that these natural water bodies and tracts of land are essential for a functional city like Dhaka. Any filling up of these channels will, it is argued, increase exponentially Dhaka's vulnerability to flooding. Alterations being made to the Detailed Area Plan (DAP) just prior to the placement of the budget did not entail consultations with various stakeholders.
Needless to say, we are deeply concerned with the “commercialisation” of flood zones to make way for private housing and other so-called infrastructure projects. Concerns raised are valid ones. No one is against development. But should that be allowed at the cost of the collective security and wellbeing of the 15million or so residents who call Dhaka their home? And the hurried manner in which alterations are being pushed is devious to say the least. One must not forget that the state of environment in the capital city is already precarious. Are we willingly signing away the last of the protection systems that nature has bestowed upon us for a residential plan? Then we could very well be courting doom. It is baffling to see such plans afoot especially since land earmarked for housing development in the estimated 1,500km2 is yet to be exhausted. Then what need is there to touch the flood flow zones?