- Experts have blamed a provision in the Dhaka Building Construction Rules for the city being so densely populated
- Construction of unplanned high-rise buildings densified areas over their capacities
- The number of people per acre of land should not exceed 120 but in many wards of Dhaka, it has reached 680 per acre
- Dhaka is the most unliveable city in the world despite Bangladesh's growth being at a satisfactory level
- 90% of Dhaka wards have exceeded their capacity with 150 people living in each acre of area
- The government has been recommended to introduce a dwelling unit for each kata or acre of land, using a block development system, to control the density of Dhaka city
Although the government has been implementing the revised Dhaka Building Construction Rules since 2008, to properly manage the city's structures, a provision of the rule can be blamed for making Dhaka a densely-populated city, experts have said.
At a virtual press conference titled "Density, Liveability and Development Management of Dhaka City" organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) on Tuesday, the experts blamed Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) for the city's unplanned development.
BIP President Professor Akter Mahmud said, "A provision was included in the floor building code for Dhaka city in 2008, which said the height range or floor area ratio of a building would be the same for all areas of the city. But all areas do not have the same utility and other services."
"So, construction of unplanned high-rise buildings densified an area compared to its capacity – in terms of volume of utility services, road networks, transport management system, and other facilities," he added.
He said development management is one of the three main tasks of Rajuk and it is very important.
"But Rajuk has failed to do that," added Professor Akter.
Giving an example, the BIP president said Dhanmondi residential area was developed for a population of 15,000-18,000 with the allotment of 1,083 plots in 1965.
"But over the years, the number of plots and height of the buildings were increased in breach of the basic plan. As a result, 1.5 lakh people are living there now – which is 10 times higher than the initial figure – but the road networks and utility management system have remained the same," he explained.
He said Rajuk is the authority responsible for controlling such unplanned development, which can destroy a city. "If they cannot work without serving the interest of specific individuals or groups, it will be difficult to live in this city."
The professor said the number of people per acre of land should not exceed 120 but in many wards of Dhaka, it has reached 680 per acre.
Dr Adil Mohammed Khan, secretary of the BIP, showed in his presentation that Dhaka is the most unliveable city in the world despite Bangladesh's growth being at a satisfactory level.
He said, "In Dhaka, 90% of wards have exceeded their capacity with 150 people per acre of area, 80% of wards with 200 people per acre, 63% of wards with 300 people per acre, and 40% of wards with 400 people per acre."
A BIP report said density planning is an important tool and technique to limit the growth of a city. It is important to note that the maximum height in various zones should not be considered automatically; it should be considered for individual sites for residential development during the planning process.
The report said the most effective way to control and manage population density and urban development is to create an area-based population density map, prepare a list of area-based social and civic amenities and infrastructure, and issue a development permit accordingly. Rajuk has to decide how many families (dwelling units) can be approved per katha plot or one-acre area.
Also, the BIP report recommended the government introduce a dwelling unit for each kata or acre of land with a block development system to control the density of Dhaka city.
Such density control measures should be applied to the Detailed Area Plan for Dhaka city appropriately to ensure planned and sustainable development, the report said.
Experts at the event said plans had been undertaken 25 years ago to build big residential areas outside the main city area of Dhaka – such as Purbachal, Uttara 3rd Phase, and Jhilmil – but construction has not begun yet.
They said the main city area of Dhaka would have become less dense had housing units been built in those places.
They also focused on the decentralisation of opportunities for employment, education and healthcare from the capital so that there is a balance in density all over the country.