DAP for Dhaka: A review of its Impacts and acceptability in the Industrial sector on Sustainable Development Measures.

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Md. Mahamudur Rahman (Papon)

Architect, Environmentalist & Disaster Management Expert

Md. Mahamudur Rahman (Papon)

Proposed Detailed Area Plan (DAP) 2016 – 2035 is a very important document for Dhaka city. Regional planning plays a very important role in controlling the development works of any city and planning its improvement. Today I will discuss the impact of DAP on the industrial development of Dhaka and its adoption in the industrial sector as a measure of sustainable development.

If we see the main proposals of the DAP, firstly the proposal in the DAP is titled “Nagar Jeevan Rekha (Urban Life Line) where 574 km of roads are proposed to be shaped by nature of urban life. Then they talked about “School vittik Unnayan (School-based development)” where 627 schools and 287 primary health centers are proposed with a projected cost of Taka 29 thousand crores. Besides, 5 “Regional Parks”, 49 “hydro centric Parks” and 8 “Eco Parks” have been proposed in 6 regions, each ranging from 10 acres to 680 acres. The “Gonomukhi Jogajog Bebostha (Mass Communication System)” proposal has been put forward which recommends the implementation of a 2198 km urban lifeline to ensure a walking environment. 574 km as a waterway and 1233 km as a mechanized vehicular route are proposed. “Sommonnito Vugorvosto Utility Duct (Integrated Underground Utility Duct)” is proposed in DAP. “Krishi-Jami/Bonna obobahika Oncol (Agriculture/Flood Basin Management” is also proposed in this DAP. {Ref: DAP (2016-2035), Volume-1, Page-3}

This critical zone plan is proposed for 20 years (2016-2035) but is recommended to be updated and revised every 5 years. But in this basic plan of DAP, there is no strong proposal for industrial or economic development.

It is worth mentioning here that the economy of Bangladesh is 39th in the world and 29th in purchasing power (PPP) which is second in South Asia. Bangladesh has achieved growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) at an average of 6.30 percent over the past decade and is currently the 7th fastest growing economy in the world. The economy of this Bangladesh is changing economy from agriculture to manufacturing industries. A major part of Bangladesh’s economy is remittances and the ready-made garment industry.

The size of Dhaka city was once small and the surrounding areas were developed as industrial areas. Tejgaon was once called an industrial area, now this industrial area has become the center of the capital in terms of location. Not only Tejgaon, but more industrial areas have also developed in Dhaka city which has strengthened the job market of the entire country including Dhaka city and the country’s economy in the global market. However, the amount of industrial area proposed in this DAP is only 7.90 percent in the Industrial major mixed zone and only 1.63 percent in Heavy Industrial Areas. Ashulia, Bypail, Konabari, Madhupur, Tongi, and some other areas have been included in the proposed industrial areas in DAP.

After going through the entire DAP, it is seen that the proposals of DAP on the industrial and economic side are very less. In the existing industrial factories of Dhaka city where millions of people are currently employed, there is no proposal for DAP at all. However, currently, the world’s safest and most environmentally friendly industrial factories are being built in Bangladesh. But even if the plan for industrial development is not strong, there are some restrictions on the construction of buildings in this DAP, it is a big responsibility to understand how reasonable it is to construct industrial factories or large buildings.

Section (1.4) of the Structure of the Critical Area Plan mentions two distinct parts of the DAP. They are- (1) Unnayan Bebosthapona Porikolpona (Development Management Plan) and (2) Kormo Porikolpona (Action Plan). In this part, the procedural method of how to manage a personal or institutional development initiative is said. It will work like a rule. Through this, if someone wants to build a house, factory, or any other structure on any land, he must follow the rules of this part for determining its type and approving its land use. In addition, the principles described in this section shall be imposed in all cases applicable to the construction of any infrastructure or any other major project. Rules and building codes are framed under this section. Details of this can be found in the regulations, which look at the safety measures and various facilities of industrial plants in line with international standards. Industrial factories are certified after judicial analysis which later sees the factories get work from international buyers. In the case of our country, this is a very vital matter which is constantly observed by various professionals of our country with great devotion.

DAP’s Land Use Area Management System (3.5), Chapter 3.5.1 – Location (3.5.1.1) states that infrastructure is currently in spontaneous development areas including industrial areas and its impact zone areas and project / enterprise-based areas Government / Private EPZs / Economic Zones / Industrial Areas and adjacent areas within the areas will act as regulators for marking industrial urban areas. Apart from this, with the expansion of the Dhaka city area from time to time by RAJUK, a large part of the increased area is mainly built around various industries and related employment, due to the special characteristics of all those areas, they have another distinct land use zone – Mixed Use Area (mainly industrial) has been identified as However, no clear idea is given in this DAP about when the industrial establishment is recognized as one or more buildings under private ownership and currently exists.

Besides, existing and proposed EPZs, BSIC Areas / Economic Zones, and Government / Private Industrial Estates have been included in Heavy Industrial Zones, mainly considering the current usage and expansion trends in DAP. But it does not say anything specific about the already existing individual industrial enterprises. There are many privately owned industrial establishments in Dhaka city that need to be included in DAP and all these industrial establishments should be shown as existing industrial establishments in the land use pattern map of DAP. In the description of Industrial Major Mixed Zones, the DAP states that only small and cottage industries will be given conditional permission, where the value of fixed assets other than land and factory buildings is up to Taka 1.50 crore. It is good to say that there are many modern machines in the market today which have a little high one-time cost but the very low running cost and all these machines are environment friendly. Moreover, all the active and passive protection that is needed to protect from various accidents in the field of disaster management also needs to be excluded from this condition of 1.50 crore Takas. (For example Fire Protecting Equipment). Instead of keeping it at 1.50 crores, if it is made at a minimum of 5 crores, we will see some safe and sustainable Architecture in Dhaka city where there will be benefits in all environmental, social, and economic fields.

The DAP stipulates that industrial buildings should have a minimum distance of 50 meters (164ft) from educational institutions and hospitals/health centers. Whereas, when an industrial building is located in a mixed area, it will be smaller in size and the amount of pollution is also will be less. So this condition deserves to be reconsidered as to how reasonable it is for a densely populated area like Dhaka city? The Labor Code requires that any industrial building employing more than 5,000 workers should have its health care center and if the number of workers is less than that, at least a doctor’s chamber and medicine shop should be provided because of accidents in the factory, women during maternity or other reasons requiring health care. Is more than 50 meters (164ft) away in a place like Dhaka seem unreasonable to require small and cottage industries? By lifting this condition, the small and cottage industries of Dhaka city should be given more opportunities for economic development.

The description of “Heavy Industrial Areas” states, “As per the rules of the Department of Environment, 1997 (last revised 2017), orange B and red category industries are defined where ponds, canals, lakes, and rivers may be located in the area. In this DAP, in some cases, riverside areas where some areas already exist as industrial areas and adjacent areas have been proposed as heavy industrial areas. This has great potential to damage river ecology in the future and will be one of the major causes of river pollution. Various professional organizations have opposed it because, from their past expee, they have been able to realize its ill effects which the DAP makers are yet to realize. As a result of these objections by the professionals, RAJUK has confirmed that the DAP will separate the foreshore or riparian area by buffering 50 meters (164ft) from the river bank. Where no construction and heavy industrial areas are allowed along the river. Rajuk’s DAP delegation along with the professionals have confirmed during the DAP review meetings that they will allow industrial setup in some areas but with buffer areas. All the existing industrial areas located on the banks of the river cannot be proposed as illegal. But in this case, the waste management of all the existing industrial factories must be ensured.

The role of industrial factories in the economy of a country is undeniable. In the economic development of Bangladesh, the development of the industrial factory and the selection of its proper location, considering the environmental, social, and economic aspects, an industrial factory has to be built in compliance with all international and local laws and regulations. As important as DAP is for the city of Dhaka, industrial facilities are essential to keep Dhaka’s wheel moving which has been neglected in DAP. If the city of Dhaka is to be more economically self-reliant, Dhaka needs to identify industrial areas on its periphery and an integrated master plan for an economic zone that includes the surrounding areas of Dhaka. If not, according to the proposed DAP, the development of the industrial sector in Dhaka will be less and as a result, all the agricultural land around Dhaka will be filled with industrial factories, which will greatly damage the chance of sustainable development of our country in the future. And to get rid of this problem, it is necessary to formulate a sustainable and inclusive master plan in a coordinated effort with various professionals and development support organizations including IAB, IEB, Environmentalists, Urban Planners, Disaster Management Professionals, Agriculturalists, BGMEA, FBCCI, etc.