The housing and public works minister has almost totally bypassed the Detailed Area Plan (DAP) though it is critical for development of the capital, leading urban researcher Prof Nazrul Islam said yesterday.
“He took DAP as a trouble though it was approved by the government,” the honorary chairman of the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) told a conference CUS organised on the occasion of its 42nd annual meeting at the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
The minister, Mosharraf Hossain, who is head of a ministerial committee on DAP, almost unilaterally endorsed the massive earth filling of over 8,000 acres of flood flow zones and farmland on August 25 to help illegal housing business though the places are protected by DAP.
In most cases, urbanisation and development plans remain only on papers, while the government authorities give approval to unplanned development on their "discretion", said Prof Nazrul.
The country's urban policy was prepared in 2006 and the national housing policy in 1993 but both documents are still awaiting government approval to take effect, said the expert, who led formulation of both the policies. It is understandable how grave the situation is, when the country's prime minister expresses her frustration over destruction of flood zones and wetlands by wealthy and powerful quarters, said Environment Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, who attended the event as chief guest.
“The chief executive (prime minister) should know what their own people are doing with the development plans,” said Manju, who has been a minister for 13 years in different regimes, adding that development schemes were implemented in a piecemeal fashion in the country.
Prof Nurul Islam Nazem, CUS secretary, said the urban economy accounted for 60 percent of the country's GDP, while the rest came from rural economy. He said one-third of the country's population lived in urban areas.
Geography professors and senior students presented five research papers on different urban issues at the conference.