In the name of urbanisation, official custodians are perpetrating the destruction of natural resources like rivers and other water bodies, conservable wetlands, floodplains and farmlands in Bangladesh, according to an urbanisation expert and architect based in America.
Irreversible damage has been done to such natural resources in and outside the capital city through an unholy alliance of political authorities and business mafias abusing power, Dr Adnan Morshed said in an interview with The Daily Star during a recent Dhaka visit.
He observed that it was happening through the "mutual desire of political and business forces".
Dr Adnan, an associate professor, who teaches architecture and planning at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, is the author of "A Decade of Insights into Bangladeshi Affairs". He is currently working on a book on the urban past and future of Dhaka.
Destroying conservable flood flow zones and farmlands in the name of urbanisation is suicidal for economic development, he said. If urbanisation is going on like this in Bangladesh, it will be disastrous for the people and environment in the long run, he added.
“It's an environmental genocide,” said Adnan. “Let us not make destruction of wetlands and land grabbing an ideal of making business. Healthy urbanisation and business would ensure a healthy economy.”
Pointing out a few of the adverse impacts, the expert said such devastation would inevitably result in urban flooding, environmental and public health degradation, loss of livelihoods, displacement from ancestral homesteads and a drastic fall in the quality of life.
Liveability does not necessarily depend on economic affordability but on environmental and social consciousness for the wellbeing of life, he said, adding that the revival of nature and not subjugation of it should be the way of urbanisation and economic development.
“Development in mere monetary terms is not economic growth.” Environmental conservation, liveability, and social wellbeing are the actual economic process, Dr Adnan asserted.
He estimated that though urbanisation was happening slowly in Bangladesh compared to other countries, 40 percent of the country would be urbanised by 2030.