It is indeed a shame that Dhaka is the worst liveable city in the world, according to the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2012 Global Liveability Survey released on Tuesday. As New Age reported on Wednesday, the survey involved 140 cities, each of which was rated ‘over 30 relative quantitative and qualitative factors that cover five broad categories such as stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.’ Notably, a survey conducted by the same organisation in 2011 ranked the Bangladesh capital as the second worst liveable city in the world.
With a lovely landscape, criss-crossed by rivers and canals, as urban planners across the board have on several occasions pointed out, Dhaka, indeed, has the potential to become an ideal city. Regrettably, however, failure of successive governments and mayors, regardless of their political inclination, over the decades has turned it, to say the least, into a jungle of concrete. Ever since independence, on the one side, it has been subjected to haphazard urbanisation and, on the other, its land and water bodies have fallen prey to unabated encroachment, especially by the people tied to the ruling quarters. With around 15 million residents, the city has already become over-crowded. In addition, more than one-fourth of them live in slums and even open places like parks and transport terminals devoid of all sorts of basic amenities. It lacks adequate number of schools as far as the size of its population is concerned while power outage and shortage of water have become two perennial problems for its dwellers over the years. Deteriorating public healthcare facilities are also raising concerns among them, particularly those belonging to fixed- and low-income groups, in a growing manner. Also, inadequate public transport, coupled with acute tailbacks, continues to hamper their movement. The less said about the sliding law and order in the city, perhaps, the better. To add to the existing city dwellers’ sufferings, because of flawed administrative and economic policies pursued by the incumbent Awami League-led government, like its predecessors, half a million more move to the capital from across the country every year mainly in search of livelihood. According to experts, if this flow of people is allowed to continue, it is not unlikely that the city will need to be declared abandoned in the future.
It does not need to be overemphasised that to bring Dhaka back into a liveable condition requires a major overhaul in policies, social and economic, pursued by the ruling quarters thus far. Above all, the general apathy of political parties in general and the mainstream ones in particular to public woes also needs to come to an end. It is, however, also true that without a huge social movement, all this will remain a distant dream. Hence, the conscious section of society needs to come forward to this end.
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