Published:  12:50 AM, 14 November 2017

It is time we correct our approach to urbanization

Experts at an international conference held in Dhaka recently have identified the lack of professionals at the local government institutions as a major barrier to planned urbanization in the country. They have also revealed some study findings which say that out of the country's 328 municipalities, only 30 have a town planner each and there is not even a post for an architect. Studies have also shown that only 20 percent of the qualified town planners in the country are currently involved in town planning whereas each of the 172 first-category municipalities is supposed to have one town planner each.

The 1992 service rules entitle the local government ministry with the authority to appoint town planners and architects to the municipalities. It goes without saying the ministry has failed utterly to use its decision-making power. What is more, the relevant ministry, that possesses the power and responsibility of permitting and supervising building planning and construction in greater Dhaka and the country as a whole, has thus far failed to make house builders follow our National Building Code that is mandatory for building construction in greater Dhaka.

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripaksha and the other urban development bodies across the country too cannot deny their responsibility in this connection, for they have shown absolute negligence in carrying out their respective duties.

It is amply clear that our approach to urbanization so far has been a flawed one. And this flawed approach is now leading to multifarious problems. Our injudiciousness has damaged not only the aesthetic part of urban planning but also created many problems in civic life.

Even though income opportunities and infrastructure facilities in urban centers look charming, for they are not satisfactorily developed in terms of quality and quantity, they are failing to grab the economic opportunities in the global market and efficiently use the large pool of the country's youth workforce.  

Against this backdrop, we urge the government to take measures to fill up the vacant posts of town planners and create posts for architects in the municipalities as per the 1992 service rules and fill them up with efficient persons. We also urge all people concerned to be up and doing to formulate a national housing policy having a uniform Building Code, which will be mandatory for all in constructing buildings in metropolises, cities, small towns and even rural areas.

More importantly, the authorities concerned would have to remain alert and should not show any laxity in performing their duties to make sure that none can violate the law.

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