Leave Dhaka’s flood-flow zones alone
The recently-approved Detailed Area Plan (DAP), which allows the construction of structures in flood-flow zones, will only encourage grabbers and aggravate waterlogging in Dhaka city, warned urban experts.
Flood-flow zones are areas that generally stay dry but store water when it rains. They are crucial in preventing waterlogging. In the new DAP, flood-flow zones have been divided into two categories: main flood-flow zones and general flood-flow zones. It proposed conditional development in the general zones.
Addressing a discussion on DAP at The Daily Star Centre on Sunday, they said the proposal of conditional development will create opportunities for grabbers to occupy more of these zones.
"Despite flood-flow zones being off limits to development in the previous DAP, a vast part of them have already been filled up. This new provision will create more opportunities to occupy more areas of these zones," said Adil Mohammad Khan, former general secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP).
Adil said due to the new provision, during heavy rain, water will not be able to run into main flood-flow zones from general zones, which will lead to waterlogging. Construction of structures in the general zones will not only destroy their characteristics but will also make them ineffective for proper water flow.
Despite flood-flow zones being off limits to development in the previous DAP, a vast part of them have already been filled up. This new provision will create more opportunities to occupy more areas of these zones.
According to a BIP study in 2019, Dhaka city, which is under Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), had lost 3,440 of the 9,556 acres of flood-flow zones, water-retention areas, and waterbodies in nine years since 2010.
It also found that during that period, individuals, businesses, real-estate developers, organisations, and even government agencies gobbled up 1,072 acres of flood-flow zones, which cover 1,879 acres of the Dhaka metropolitan area.
Speaking at the event, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), came down hard on Rajuk for failing to protect waterbodies. She was critical about letting such construction going on in the zones.
Rajuk has planned a project called "Lake City '', which will likely be built in Ashulia. Its intention is to legalise the already filled-up flood-flow zones by putting them in the general category, she alleged.
Criticising the proposal of eco-parks on farmland in the DAP, Adil said the proposal is totally unacceptable and is against the law.
Iqbal Habib, convener of the working group related to the DAP of Institute of Architects Bangladesh, welcomed the new floor area ratio (FAR) values in the DAP but questioned the discriminatory distribution of FAR.
FAR refers to the ratio that is derived from the total area of all the floors of a building and the size of the piece of land upon which it is built. The higher the FAR, the taller a building can be built and vice versa.
He said in the new DAP, the authorities have given areas like Mohammadpur, Kalyanpur, Pirerbagh, Agargaon and Badda low FAR values. But they have given high value to areas like Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara.
"It means, buildings taller than three to four stories cannot be built in low FAR-value areas in general compared to areas that have high values, where 10-storey or even taller structures can be built," he said. "This distribution system is unfair and will not ensure housing for all in Dhaka by 2035, as outlined in the DAP."
However, Adil said that the FAR values are justified, as they were determined based on the areas' civic facilities, infrastructural development and population density.
The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam and Executive Editor Syed Ashfaqul Haque were present at the programme.