New 20-year DAP amid failure of old one
With the capital's present detailed area plan (DAP) remaining unimplemented in the face of opposition from influential realtors, the government is drawing up another 20-year plan to ensure “planned urban development.”
The Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) is preparing the fresh DAP covering an area of over 1,500 square km at a cost of over Tk 33 crore for the period of 2016 to 2035. The tenure of the current DAP expires this year.
The plan was expected to be tabled at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase on Monday for approval. The committee, however, did not sit.
Once approved, a joint venture of Sheltech (Pvt) Limited and The Decode Limited will prepare DAP for 753 square km area while The Development Design Consultants Limited will work up for 764 square km, dividing the city with a line drawn along the New Airport Road, according to documents obtained by The Daily Star.
The current DAP suggested reclaiming over 2,500 acres of flood flow zones and agricultural land from the grip of illegal property developers, relocation of 3,000 industries and scrapping of 16 development projects.
But none of the suggestions have been acted upon. The Pangaon Inland Container Terminal, a firing range of the armed forces and Jhilmil housing project by Rajuk in Keraniganj featured among the 16 schemes. While the Pangaon terminal has already been already implemented, works on the rest two are going on.
According to an estimate by experts, over 100 realtors have illegally developed projects by destroying conservable flood plains, retention areas, rivers, farmlands and rural homesteads in and around the capital.
Prof Sarwar Jahan, who teaches urban planning at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), said destruction of flood plains and wetlands would only spell environmental disaster, water-logging, and health crisis for the capital, regardless of its economic status.
Sheikh Abdul Mannan, Rajuk board member for planning and head of proposal evaluation committee on the new DAP, said, “In the light of reality, we will incorporate development schemes in the new DAP that were not included in the current DAP.”
Mannan, who recently visited the US and Canada to learn about urban planning, admitted that conservable wetlands and flood flow zones in the city have been destroyed mindlessly, with Rajuk playing the role of a silent spectator. “It's true…. But it has been going on illegally.”
Noted urban planner Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, who headed the preparation of the current DAP, said an estimated 83 percent of conservable flood flow zones and wetlands have been destroyed and grabbed by influential businessmen for commercial ends.
Of the master plan area, conservable flood flow zone, water retention area and water bodies (canals, lakes, rivers) together constitute 405 square km while agricultural land covers 330 square km.
“I've given up hope…. I no longer bother about what's happening in this regard. Because nothing would happen to the planned urbanisation,” he added.
“The business quarters that are dead against the planned urbanisation in the capital now dictate terms in planning affairs. Preparations of DAP had been a waste of laborious professional work,” mentioned Jamilur.
Khondaker M Ansar Hossain, immediate past general secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), said the authorities concerned are preparing the new DAP very secretly without even informing a professional body like the BIP.
The DAP depicts every structure, lake, canal, wetland, retention pond, road, open space and all the topographical features of the master plan area. It is instrumental in controlling use of land with conservation of wetlands and environment, added Ansar who was the planning expert of the current DAP.
The first DAP was finalised twice and published in a gazette in June 2010.
But the government in the face of strong opposition from realtors and Dhaka lawmakers stalled its implementation, making it subject to another “final review” by a seven-minister committee.
Then Rajuk chairman Md Nurul Huda in May 2013 had told this paper that they could not implement vital suggestions of the DAP as the seven-member cabinet committee did not give them any directives.