Dhaka has been placed at the bottom of the world’s 140 cities in 2012 in terms of living conditions—one slab down from 2011, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2012 Global Livability Survey.
Last year Dhaka was ranked the second least livable city in the world. Thanks to initiatives of dividing into north and south city corporations 4/12/2012. The four-hundred-year-old city was divided in the name of providing better service to the dwellers of Dhaka, established as a municipality in 1/8/1864.
With beautiful natural 47 lakes criss-crossing, four rivers surrounding, natural lush green covering the Dhaka city was undoubtedly one of the ten beautiful cities during the Mughal period. Though there was no such statistics like those of today’s, Subadar Islam Khan’s Dhaka’s status picked day by day until there was no concentration of wealth in the city. It was the one of the most livable cities in the world when there no meteoric rise in the number of millionaires. It is said the Pakistanis (22 millionaires living in the Western part of the then Pakistan) were responsible for amassing wealth, particularly plundering the properties of the poor peasants of the then East Pakistan. Ultimately this concentration of wealth created the atmosphere in the lead up to the War of Independence by the great Freedom Fighters, most of them were Muslims.
Looting by the secular successors of Pakistani looters started since the independence of Bangladesh and when Founding President of Bangladesh and Bangladesh Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed the number of crorepatis stood at 47. Since then the number of looters with the support of both the Awami League, BNP and Jatiya Party. According to Bangladesh Bank data when HM Ershad’s regime collapsed in 1990s there was as many as 943 crorepatis. In 2010 the central bank says the number of crorepatis rose to 29537. Thanks to the pro-rich laws. The more political goons became millionaires the more the Dhaka’s livability decreased.
Absence of decentralization wealth, employment, administration, development has resulted in concentration of 90 percent of wealth in Dhaka and Chittagong. Capitalist economy is not only helping a crore out of 700 crore to be richer but also giving rise to a few cities with its high rises and posh office buildings. One percent is consuming the wealth of the 99 percent people.
There are as many as 150 crore people living in Dhaka with the arrival of half a million every year, complicating the availabilities of civic amenities. Because of the investment in and around Dhaka jobs are being created here in and the capital. As a result of no or little investment in the periphery job seekers are coming to Dhaka. As the mills, factories or offices are being set up in the capital 5 lakh people are coming here every year. What neo-capitalist China is experiencing is that farmers leaving farmland are coming to the cities to work and earn. So if the concentration of wealth goes on and no corrective measures are taken the result would be certainly grim. Just in 280 years 14 crore more people will come to Dhaka to settle.
Look at the transport management of the Dhaka city planners. Upto June 2011 BRTA, cited by New Age, there are as many as 643003 vehicles ply in the capital of Bangladesh. Out of these vehicles, according to New Age, 16958 are auturickshaws, 10682 taxis, 9911 buses, 8515 minibuses, 268295 motorcycles, 174122 cars, 68302 jeeps and 36922 trucks. Conspicuously the number of cars outnumbers the public buses. By 174122 cars at best 10 lakh people move but for the rest of the 1.5 crore people there are only less than 20 thousand buses to carry all these people. What a joke with city dwellers! If you look at the total number of vehicles plying on 21 thousand km country roads. According to Daily Naya Diganta 11/11/11 the number of private vehicles is not only high in Dhaka city but also on the top in the country. The number of car, jeep and station wagon stood at 2007503, microbus 90635, truck 81561 and the number of taxicabs rose to 12298. The number of cars and jeeps implicates that the idea of public transport (bus) was defeated by the personal transport (private car). What an utter mismanagement that BRTA is allowing 100 cars everyday to hit the Dhaka city roads. Certainly private car companies bribed the officials concerned properly against the bus engines companies. Apparently the cars will drive out all other modes of vehicles including the buses out of Dhaka city. Some hold rickshaws, abrupt parking of vehicles and etc are responsible for traffic tailback. But it is clearly evident that centralisation of everything particularly wealth in Dhaka is solely responsible for its loss of livablity.
But the bus company successfully defeated the locomotive companies most probably in bribing the joint secretaries upto prime ministers irrespective of their political camps since the independence. When China hadn’t a single kilometer railway but Bangladesh had nearly 3000 km railway. O Seleucus day by day railway, the most popular mode of transport allover the world, is made unpopular in Bangladesh. China has now 91 thousand km railway but Bangladesh’s rail line shrinked by nearly 200 km. There are around 300 locomotives struggling to keep the world popular rail, surviving the threat of privatisation.
There is another thing that may force people to leave city due to scarcity of water which was available at a 20-feet deep well on the Parliament precinct. Now the water table has gone down to 180-feet. And the experts are repeatedly warning that within a space 10 Dhaka may have to be left and one of its reason is the scarcity of water. The other valuable thing for the mega city is the supply of clean fuel natural gas. With the end of its proven reserve and its siphoning out to a neighbouring country will spell great disaster to tall towers and households. How can Bangladesh survive the financial shock if the country has to leave 330000 buildings. If they are on average 5-storey buildings having 3 flats each there will be as many as (330000 *5*3) 4950000 flats. If each flat is of 1000 square feet the total amount of space will be (4950000*1000) 4950000000 square feet. At a present rate of Tk 6000 The total value of 4950000000 square feet will stand Tk 29700000000000. If my poor motherland has to abandon the city will it sustain the shock of Tk 29700000000000?