Dhaka needs its wetlands
Going against everything we have heard from experts about the importance of preserving and reclaiming Dhaka's wetlands, realtors at a meeting with Rajuk on Wednesday seem to have found a new solution. According to them, Dhaka has no need for its wetlands—one individual went so far as to say that these water bodies only serve to increase the mosquito population. It cannot be lost to anyone that reclamation of these water bodies which would go a long way in solving waterlogging would hurt the unethical business practices that realtors have followed over the years.
Urban development experts have pointed out that eastern Dhaka was once defined by its aqua lands. Over the years, these areas which served as the city's natural drainage networks were turned into sand. Illegal encroachment of these bodies coupled with impunity are the reasons we are where we are today. This is despite the fact that the DAP and the Dhaka's master plan prohibit development of housing projects in such water bodies and flood flow zones.
We have seen little action from the authorities to reclaim the 2,500 acres of flood flow zones and agricultural land from the grip of illegal property developers as the DAP suggests. Now, the realtors have demanded that Rajuk should not develop a new plan that "it cannot implement." In effect, they are asking the authorities to forget about the water bodies that have been encroached and move on.
It is mainly due to opposition from realtors that Rajuk has failed to reclaim Dhaka's water bodies. Thankfully, the Rajuk chairman has responded by saying that Dhaka's officially recorded rivers, canals and water bodies would be conserved at any cost. We hope that the body acts on its laudable words. We have seen this year how greed-fuelled development disregarding environmental concerns can turn this city unliveable. It would be devastating to give it legitimacy as the realtors have demanded.