A city with great potential

Anwar Ahmed

A view of Khulna city

Khulna is an industrial city with a river port. It's located on the levee of Rupsha and Bhairab rivers. The origin of the city dates back to the late nineteenth century when it was declared a municipality in 1884. The city grew in size and stature during the Pakistan period when it became an administrative division and the premier urban centre in the southern region.

After the emergence of Bangladesh, Khulna retained its position as an industrial town and its population increased rapidly. In 1984, Khulna municipality was upgraded to a city corporation. Since then efforts are being made to make it a metropolis worth the name.

Khulna has a better literacy rate than other cities in the country, but its gender ratio is still unfavourable (118 males per 100 females).

The city or the region as a whole has certain built-in advantages which make the prospect of turning it into a vibrant industrial city really bright. It is situated on the banks of a good navigable river, Ruphsa. The city has a number of educational institutes which draw students from the entire southern Bengal. It has flood-free land that can be developed for various purposes. It's a river port and not far away from the Mongla seaport. And Khulna already has an industrial base which can be broadened under any need-based scheme.

The city also has importance as the gateway to the Sunderbans, the beautiful mangrove forests. It can attract a huge number of tourists from home and abroad. It is also a place for hunters , anglers and photographers. The city also offers excellent opportunities for people interested in river cruises.

Despite all the positive aspects and advantages, the city is grappling with several problems. It is physically divided by the river Rupsha. Its economy is still not dynamic enough as it is heavily dependent on the traditional manufacturing sectors. The majority of the city dwellers are yet get regular and reliable supply of water. The condition of the urban poor is still very unsatisfactory.

The city needs rapid improvement in some crucial areas in order to be able to realise its full potential. The pace of industrial development has to be accelerated and the facilities for the prospective investors must be enhanced.

The existing communications system needs total overhauling. The city will get far closer to the capital when the proposed Mawa bridge is commissioned.

The planners have to envision the following.1) Growth of city economy 2) Fair distribution of city income. 3) Better living condition for the urban poor. 4) Planned expansion of the city areas. 5) Public health and literacy and capacity building for women. 6) Efficient and accountable city governance.

Khulna along with four other cities has become a metropolis but it doesn't yet have the wherewithal to provide all the services that citizens need. So the challenge ahead for the city planners and fathers is to make an optimum utilisation of the available resources and make the best use of the built-in facilities.

The author is a book worm.

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