Urbanisation too scary

Experts deplore rapid pace of unplanned development, fear whole country to become city state in 4 decades

(From left) Dr Akter Mahmud, Prof Golam Rahman, Prof Shariff Uddin Ahmed, Prof Amirul Islam Chowdhury, Syed Hashemi, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, Dr Mostafa K Mujeri, Mustafa Quaium Khan, Prof Golam Murtaza, Prof ATM Nurul Amin and Prof Mahabubullah at a discussion on urban issues organised by The Daily Star at its office in the capital yesterday.
Urban sprawl is so rapid in Bangladesh that the entire country is going to convert into a city state in three to four decades.

It is very important to introduce proper urban management to address the situation, said renowned experts at a discussion on urban issues at The Daily Star Centre yesterday.

The capital and other metropolises are growing very fast, but urban management issues still remain neglected as there is a severe knowledge gap, said the speakers, who are all members of Bangladesh Urban Institute (BURI).

“Urbanisation is an obvious reality which we cannot stop. So, we should address the issue properly. But the policymakers have been ignoring it which is very alarming for the country,” Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, coordinator of BURI, said explaining tasks of the institute.

“We are not getting outcome of urban financing. Economic activities are increasing, but the urban social indicators are not improving simultaneously due to lack of urban management system,” he added.

In a joint venture with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the BURI has been working on developing a complete database on urban issues in four categories — the capital, Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), five other city corporations, and the municipal areas in Bangladesh.

After developing the database by 2014, the BURI would work to narrow the knowledge gaps of government officials and media personnel to face the new challenge called urban management, the discussion was told.

Several world standard modern structures have been built in the country, especially in Dhaka and Chittagong. “But civic behaviour to use and maintain those structures is still very poor,” observed Dr Hossain Zillur.

Prof Mahbub Ullah said the issue is so critical that if the country failed to address it properly, the cities would not be sustainable.

Prof Sharifuddin Ahmed of history at Dhaka University said many historical and valuable archaeological structures have been ruined over the years in Dhaka that evidently shows the knowledge gaps.

Mahfuz Anam, publisher and editor of The Daily Star, said the newspaper has been carrying reports and articles on urban issues since its birth. He assured the experts of extending media support to further highlight the issues.

Prof Golam Rahman, adviser of the United International University, Dr Mustafa K Mujeri, director general of BIDS, Prof Golam Murtaza of Khulna University, Dr Akhter Mahmud, chairman, department of urban planning, Jahangirnagar University, Dr Syed Hashemi, director, Brac Development Institute, Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, former chairman of Palli Karma Sangsthan, ATM Nurul Amin of North South University, Mustafa Quiham Khan, urban specialist, M Shahidul Islam, independent researcher, among others, were present.

Source: The Daily Star

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