RAJUK committed to build a planned metropolis and an efficient capital city

Md. Sirajul Islam
Chief Town Planner
Rajdhani Unnyan Kartripakkh

RAJUK, the then Dacca Improvement Trust (DIT) was formed in 1956 with special power for the development, improvement and expansion of the capital city Dhaka, Narayangonj and some other areas in the vicinity of the two towns under The Town Improvement Act, 1953. It was renamed as Rajdhani Unnyan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) in April, 1987 as a statutory Government Organization under the Ministry of Housing & Public Works. After reformulation of RAJUK with greater jurisdiction area and assignment, major part of Savar, Gazipur and Keraniganj Upazila came under the jurisdiction of RAJUK aiming at a planned development of the metropolis.

The jurisdiction area of RAJUK was increased to 590 sq miles (1528 square kilometer) in 1987. RAJUK is now headed by a Chairman and 5 Members appointed by the government. The Chairman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Organization. The Chairman and five Members are empowered to take any decision regarding the city as per the TI Act, 1953.

RAJUK’s commitments to the city dwellers
Planning is the core function of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha [RAJUK) (The Capital Development Authority)] to guide the future growth of this capital city region of 1528 sq. kilometer. The metro Dhaka under RAJUK consists of the central capital area as well as some other smaller towns as Narayanganj, Gazipur and Savar along with its hinterlands. RAJUK is responsible for the preparation of plans (strategic/master plan) for this city region and for ensuring planned development of the city. This plan also guides the development control within RAJUK’s jurisdiction area.

RAJUK also undertakes many development projects time to time under improvement schemes for the realization of the plans. Financially and administratively, the most extensive projects are: Banani, Gulshan and Baridhara Residential projects; development of Kawranbazar, Mohakhali and Postogola commercial area; development of Sonargoan Hotel area; expansion of Motijheel commercial area; Uttara Model Town; Bijoy Sarani overpass; Kuril Flyover, Hatirjheel integrated development project and construction of several link roads.

RAJUK has many ongoing projects like Purbachal New Town Project, Jhimil Residential project, Uttara 3rd Phase, Uttara apartment project, Gulshan-Banani-Baridhara lake development project, 100′ wide canal development project along both sides of Kuril-Purbachal link road, etc.

Delegate of Yunnan Province Law Society of China seen with RAJUK officials. RAJUK Member (Planning) Abul Kalam Azad and Chief Town Planner Md. Sirajul Islam are seen present among others.

Unplanned developments and challenges in greater Dhaka
The area under RAJUK includes from northern part of Gazipur City Corporation in the north, Dhaleshwari River in the south, Bangshi and Dhaleshwari Rivers on the west and part of Sonargaon thana including parts of Sitalakhya and Meghna Rivers in the east. In addition to the North and South Dhaka City Corporation area, plan area covers Narayanganj City Corporation Tarabo and Savar Paurashava. Besides, Savar Export Processing Zone (EPZ), Keraniganj, Zinjira, Rupganj and Kaliganj thanas are also covered in the area.

Though Master Plan and Strategic Plans had been prepared earlier but the absence of effective implementations of those plans led to unplanned growth of the city. Environmental degradation from untreated domestic and industrial effluents, housing shortage, traffic congestion, lack of public space reached at alarming rate in Dhaka Metropolitan Area. These posed threat to public health, ecosystem, services and green economic growth of the city.

People living in Dhaka city suffering from urban problems like water logging, traffic congestion, lack of open spaces and playground etc, filling up of natural water bodies, conversion of agricultural land to residential use in designated flood flow zones have become challenging phenomena in the city. Considering all the problems mentioned earlier as well as prospects of Dhaka City, plans are formulated.

Planned Dhaka and vision for a livable, functional and resilient city
Realizing the growing importance of the city and the mounting population pressure, the need to prepare a new plan was urgently felt immediately after the establishment of RAJUK (the then DIT). The first ever Master Plan of Dhaka City was prepared under the provision of The Town Improvement Act, 1953 in 1959. Then in 1992, Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan (DMDP) project was launched under joint funding by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of Bangladesh.

The UN Center for Human Settlement (UNCHS) acted as the executive agency for the overall project. Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (RUJUK) was the implementing agency for the first ever strategic plan for Dhaka known as DMDP and responsible for providing national counterpart staff for preparing the metropolitan plan. One of the important objectives of the project was the installation of sustainable capabilities in RAJUK to prepare and implement such plans and improving capacity of the organization.

Finally, Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan (1995-2015) was prepared in 1995. A local plan known as Detailed Area Plan (DAP) was prepared later and gazetted in 2010 under DMDP. From the planning perspective, specific land use provision like residential, commercial, industrial, recreational (park, playground, lake), institutional (school, college, university, cultural organizations) and other community facilities have been demarcated following standard planning regulations in the current Detailed Area Plan (DAP).

In order to accommodate the ever changing character of dynamic Dhaka City, strategic policies have been developed in draft Dhaka Structure Plan (2016-2035) for creating Dhaka as a livable, efficient, and resilient metropolis which is awaiting final approval. This plan was prepared under Regional Development Planning (RDP) Project within City Region Development Project (CRDP, Package No. CRDP/RAJUK//S-01, Loan No. BAN-2695) funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

For the first time this plan envisages a vision for Dhaka which is “Making Dhaka a livable, functional and resilient Metropolis respecting local socio-cultural and environmental sustainability”. The main theme of the proposed concept is to create decentralized concentration i.e. diffusing the major functions performed by the core city and redistributing it to different urban centres within the regional boundary of RAJUK. This will help create a hierarchical framework of different magnitudes of urban centres providing corresponding levels of services and employment opportunities. This plan will guide the development within RAJUK’s jurisdiction area in future.

Following the broad strategies and guidelines mentioned in the Dhaka Structure Plan (2016-2035), RAJUK has started preparing revised Detailed Area Plan to review the progress and problems of previous one under the project named Preparation of Detailed Area Plan (2016-2035) for DMDP area. Implementing the proposals of Structure Plan will be incorporated in this plan to make Dhaka a livable one.

The output of the project Detailed Area Plan (2016-2035) will be crucial for the future development control function of RAJUK and development of Dhaka city for the next 20 years time frame. This is a self financing project of RAJUK.

Development and development control for planned growth
RAJUK’s fuctions are not only limited to plan preparation but also implementing those plans is a mandate of the authority. RAJUK has developed a number of quality residential areas (Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Uttara) along with provision for commercial (Mohakhali, Kawranbazar) and industrial estates (Tongi, Shampur, Kadamtoli etc.) since its establishment.

In recent years, RAJUK is providing flats through Uttara Apartment Project to increase the housing stock of the city. A number of city arterial roads were also constructed by RAJUK such as DIT Avenue, Pragati Sarani, Gulshan-Badda Link Road, Purbachal Link Road, Madani Avenue, Kuril Flyover etc.

RAJUK also took initiative for opening up water channels and providing public space through improvement schemes. Hatirjheel integrated Development Project was admired by all sections of the society. The Gulshan-Banani lake, Uttara lake etc. also have influential role in the improvement of urban environment.

A number of new projects of RAJUK are in the pipeline to ensure sustainable development of the city. These projects will supply buildable land for residential and commercial development and conserve wetlands in a balanced way. RAJUK is also thriving to redevelop old part of the city to meet the challenges of new Dhaka.

Besides, another major function of RAJUK is development control which is done through management and regulation of private land development and all other constructions/ developments as par land use zoning and strategic plans of RAJUK. The Building Construction Act, 1952 and the Real Estate Development and Management Act, 2010 are the basic acts for RAJUK’s development control activities.

Concluding remarks
Dhaka being a dynamic city with very fast urbanization rate faces a number of challenges to guide the growth in a desired and planned direction. To cope with this rate of development is also a major challenge of the city authority. Our plans are static in nature and do not follow the strategic planning rules in most of the cases. This brought the mismatch between development aspirations and realization of the plans.

Considering all these issues, the Detailed Area Plan (2016-2035) project of RAJUK is going to formulate a methodology to handle them. Composite Detailed Area Plan Maps for every Detailed Planning Zone (DPZ) will include various layers of information such as the cadastral base (Mouza Map), administrative boundaries, topographical features, infrastructure, existing/proposed land use and special development control requirements.

A comprehensive database will be created under this project that will be used by RAJUK for intensive development management purpose. Public consultation through PRA (Participatory Rapid Appraisal) session to reflect the hope and aspiration of the maximum stakeholders in the plan making process is taken a major principle of current DAP formulation.

In a nutshell, RAJUK is trying to make the capital city Dhaka- a planned, livable and environment friendly city. But to achieve those goals of a planned city, RAJUK needs sufficient political commitment in the years to come. In future, RAJUK hopes to achieve its goal through commitment and cooperation from current government and active participation of the conscious citizens.