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Climate experts, urban planners differ on solution to city's problems

March 04, 2018 00:00:00


FE Report

Urban planners and climate experts expressed different views on the present sorry state of Dhaka that provokes the thought that it is going to be abandoned in future.

International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) director Saleemul Huq said there is no solution to present complicated problems in Dhaka city.

"Dhaka is a big problem. There is no scope for making it climate resilient and sustainable except for retrofitting," said Mr Huq, adding: Dhaka is different from other cities and the way-out for it should be separate. Future cities can be planned as climate change-sensitive.

He also observed that Bangladesh's policymakers say something and work differently on climate change issues. Regarding setting up of coal-fired power plants, he said coal is a 'dying resource' for which Bangladesh should not invest anymore. "Those who are advocating for coal-based plants are taking us backward."

On the other hand, Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) president Prof AKM Abul Kalam said Dhaka is considered a different city during any discussion. There is policy for solution to the problems but there is problem with coordination.

They made the observations at a seminar on 'Climate Change Responsive Urban Planning' at BIP auditorium in the city. BIP in collaboration with ICCCAD and USAID organized the programme.

BIP president Abul Kalam chaired the programme while Saleemul Huq spoke on 'Climate Change Politics: Global Perspectives' and BIP general secretary Adil Mohammed Khan presented a paper on 'Mainstreaming Climate Change into Urban Planning'.

Citing Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), Mr Kalam said there is discussion on their role in transportation but they have only 11 staff members with which they cannot coordinate properly.

Besides, the issue of population density of Dhaka hinders all kinds of solutions to the problems of Dhaka. But Dhaka city does not mean the 1,600-kilometre of Rajuk only rather it expands in the surrounding areas including the 329-kilometre Gazipur City Corporation. If planned properly, several million people can also be accommodated there.

He, however, said the migration of rural people to Dhaka must be stopped. The policymakers and politicians should take suggestions from the experts and planners for industrialization and non-agricultural activities.

"We see land grabbers filling various water bodies and rivers under the very nose of the administration for which the government should be questioned. Mega problem should be solved by the government," he suggested.

Mr Adil said city responsive urban design comprises two technical aspects like minimum energy consumption and maximum comfort level. There are social knowledge aspect like inhabitant's perception on lifestyle, everyday life experience and local requirements.

"Bangladesh is doing such urban design that promotes the use of more air conditioners in residential and commercial space increasing the use of energy contrary to the climate responsive urban design principle," he said.

He also said resilient cities should have the characteristics of strength, interdependence, adaptability and collaboration. It should focus on building design, capacity, disposal and treatment technique, water supply, healthcare facilities, energy, drainage system, sewerage system, warning system and transport infrastructure.

He noted that the hospitals are not earthquake-resilient in the cities, especially public hospitals. These may collapse during the disaster, he added.

Mr Adil suggested that all the master plans should be revised to see whether those are planned as climate change-sensitive. Besides, the cities need precise assessment and community-engagement for making cities resilient and adaptive.

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