Cover story on RDA

RDA committed to make Rajshahi metropolis a green and healthy city

- Mohammad Abdus Samad

Rajshahi Development Authority (RDA) was established under the Rajshahi Town Development Authority Ordinance 1976 for the formulation and execution of plans and schemes for the development of Rajshahi town and its vicinity, said Mohammad Abdus Samad, Chairman, RDA in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.

In this context, the Chairman mentioned that the main powers and functions of RDA include preparation of general development plan indicating future road system, drainage system, water supply system, preparation of functional master plan relating to land use zoning and land reservation, community planning, housing, slum improvement, preparation of development schemes and prevention of haphazard construction of buildings.

As a matter of fact, the Chairman informed us that the first master plan of Rajshahi was prepared in 1984 covering an area of 127 sqkm for a period of 10 years but it lasted almost double till the enforcement of Rajshahi Metropolitan Develo-pment Plan 2004-2024 of about 364 sqkm areas.

In this context, he mentioned that the present master plan is a four-tier plan package with the Strategic Plan, the Structure Plan, the Functional Master Plan and the Detailed Area Development Plans.

When asked to explain the four-tier plan package, he said the Strategic Plan sets out strategic options for future development of Rajshahi City consistent with national development goals and strategies; the Structure Plan indicates the magnitude and direction of future growth of Rajshahi and sets forth recommendations for spatial and sectoral policies; whereas the Functional Master Plan is formulated to serve as a guide to development together with the control of land use of planning area, for a period of 10 years, more elaborate than the Structure Plan and contains a land use zoning map in the background of mouza map; and the Detailed Area Development Plans are a series of detailed spatial development plans of different types which include participatory land readjustment plans, guided land development plans, infrastructure led development plans and area improvement plans.

Terming the present master plan as the 1st GIS based 4-tier master plan in Bangladesh, he said that it is a total master plan for Rajshahi metropolitan city and in the master plan the total land use has been classified in 19 broad categories; the road network has been demarked for 20 years; and all the constructions are being approved with complying the land use laid down in the master plan.

The Chairman mentioned that RDA since the enforcement of present master plan is committed to make Rajshahi metropolis a green and healthy city. By calling this master plan a strong development control tool for Rajshahi city, he makes his earnest request to the developing agencies, local government institutions and people within RDA jurisdiction to follow the master plan for any development scheme and abide by the laws of land use and building construction, so that RDA can be able to make Rajshahi metropolis a planned, green and healthy city.

In reply to a question, the Chairman informed us that manpower and fund shortage is the main problem of RDA, adding that from the inception till to date the organization is performing with 105 manpower including 14 officers. He, however, also informed that the present government is very keen for the development of Rajshahi city and the RDA as well; so, as per the guidance of the government, recently an additional number of 107 posts have been recommended by the Ministry of Public Administration for the Rajshahi Development Authority. He believes that after the final approval of the posts and its recruitment the RDA will get its strength to implement the projects and provide the services.

In reply to another question, he said that fund from government and donor is very limited and due to lack of fund it was not possible to take many projects according to requirement. Despite its sufficient manpower shortage and fund constraint, he mentioned that RDA has already implemented a good number of development projects and some more projects are being implemented.

As a matter of fact, he also disclosed that RDA has no training unit or institute but the officers and staff are regularly taking their updated training in different training institutes frequently in country or abroad and some officers also have their foreign higher degrees which are very relevant with their professions.

Mr. Samad, a civil servant of national repute, who has already achieved a number of laurels for his outstanding contributions to the field of  administration as well as different services to the nation, is highly optimistic about the future of Rajshahi city and hopes it to be a place of national and international attraction soon after the proper implementation of the ongoing master plan.

In an exclusive interview, he replied to several questions asked by The Guardian covering the entire activities, achievements, problems, prospects and future plans of RDA, including different other issues of challenges and developments of Rajshahi city. His deliberations are not simply interesting but highly informative and educative as well. The excerpts of his valuable interview are presented here for The Guardian readers at home and abroad:

The Guardian: Please give us a brief introduction to the founding history of Rajshahi Development Authority (RDA) through which it has come to its present position.

Chairman: The Rajshahi Development Authority (RDA) was established under the Rajshahi Town Development Authority Ordinance 1976 for the formulation and execution of plans and schemes for the development of Rajshahi town and its vicinity.

The Guardian: Would you give us an idea about the present geographical boundary as well as the areas covered for development activities by RDA?

Chairman: Initially, the jurisdiction of RDA was about 127 sqkm and after 2004 it is about 364 sqkm, which includes Rajshahi City Corporation, Naohata and Katakhali Pourasova and 12 other union parishads.

The Guardian: In this context, would you discuss the powers and functions of RDA?

Chairman: The main powers and functions of RDA include preparation of general development plan indicating future road system, drainage system, water supply system, preparation of functional master plan relating to land use zoning and land reservation, community planning, housing, slum improvement, preparation of development schemes and prevention of haphazard construction of buildings.

No person is allowed to use any land for any purpose other than that laid down in the functional plan without previous permission of the authority. Within the jurisdiction of RDA, no plan or development scheme shall be prepared or executed by any person, local authority or government organization or institution without the concurrence of the authority. Only RDA is empowered to sanction the approval of constructions within its jurisdiction.

The Guardian: Would you inform us about the organogram of RDA and the number of manpower including officers and staff currently working in RDA?

Chairman: According to RTDA Ordinance the authority is constituted with 11 members including a chairman. The chairman is the administrative head of the organization. To execute the functions of the organization there is only 105 staff including 11 officers. But recently the ministry of Public Administration recommended for additional 107 posts including 25 officers.

The Guardian: Does RDA have any training unit or institute to train up its employees in different aspects of urban planning, development, administration and others?

Chairman: RDA has no training unit or institute but the officer and staff are regularly taking their updated training in different training institutes frequently in country or abroad. Some officers also have their foreign higher degrees which are very relevant with their professions.

The Guardian: Would you discuss the various shortages or problems of RDA and say what steps are being taken to solve those?

Chairman: Manpower and fund shortage is the main problem of RDA. From the inception to till date the organization is performing with 105 manpower including 14 officers. Recently an additional number of 107 posts have been recommended by the Ministry of Public Administration for the authority. After the final approval of the posts and its recruitment the RDA will get its strength to implement the projects and provide the services. As well as fund from government and donor is very limited and due to lack of fund it was not possible to take many projects according to requirement.

The Guardian: Would you inform us how many master plans RDA since its inception till to date has planned and tell us something about their implementations?

Chairman: RDA is empowered to prepare general development plan and functional master plan under RajshahiTown Develo-pment Authority Ordinance1976. The first master plan of Rajshahi was prepared in 1984 covering an area of 127 sqkm for a period of 10 years time but it lasted almost double till the enforcement of Rajshahi Metropolitan Develo-pment Plan 2004-2024 of about 364 sqkm areas.

It is a four tier plan package with the Strategic Plan, the Structure Plan, the Functional Master Plan and the Detailed Area Develo-pment Plans. The Strategic Plan sets out strategic options for future development of Rajshahi City consistent with national development goals and strategies. The Structure Plan indicates the magnitude and direction of future growth of Rajshahi and sets forth recommendations for spatial and sectoral policies. The Functional Master Plan is formulated to serve as a guide to development together with the control of land use of planning area. This plan has been prepared for a period of 10 years, more elaborate than the Structure Plan and contains a land use zoning map in the background of mouza map. The Detailed Area Development Plans are a series of detailed spatial development plans of different types which include participatory land readjustment plans, guided land development plans, infrastructure led development plans and area improvement plans.

The Guardian: In this context, would you discuss some salient features of ongoing master plan and its effectiveness in meeting the present and future demands of Rajshahi city?

Chairman: In 2004, a total master plan for Rajshahi Metropolitan city has been prepared. It is the 1st GIS based 4 tier master plan in Bangladesh. In the master plan the total land use has been classified in 19 broad categories and the road network has been demarked for 20 years. All the constructions are being approved with complying the land use laid down in the master plan. So, it’s a strong development control tool for Rajshahi city.

The Guardian: Would you mention the current population of Rajshahi city and comment about the problems and potentials of the city?

Chairman: The present population of Rajshahi city is about 0.55 million and about 0.8 million in RDA jurisdiction.

The Guardian: We came to know that to ensure civic amenities and facilities RDA has under its own finance as well as government fund, already implemented a good number of development projects in Rajshahi city. Please mention the names of all those completed projects and say after implementation of those projects what opportunities have been created for the dwellers of Rajshahi city?

Chairman: From its very inception RDA has implemented a number of projects for the city. Some of those completed projects are:

(1)       In 1984 RDA prepared a master plan for the city and after its expiration the 2nd GIS based master plan prepared in 2004. The master plan is the guideline of the city development up to 2024.

(2)       RDA established 1st bus terminal near rail station in 1990 and the 2nd inter district bus terminal at Naodapara in 2004 and a truck terminal at Naodapara in 1998.

(3)       RDA constructed Alupatti to Sonadidhi road through Sahebbazar in 1990, extension of greater road from gourhanga to talaimari road in 1990, kalpana cinema hall to rail station road in 1998, bypass connecting road from bhadra to bypass road in 2009 to make an easy communication.

(4)       RDA established a park beside the Padma R/A in 1995 for the entertainment of the people.

(5)       RDA developed Padma R/A in 1992, Bonolota C/A in 1995, Parijat R/A in 1993, Chayanir R/A in 1997, Chandrima R/A in 2006, Mahananda R/A in 2010 and allotted about 1500 plots among the interested people.

(6)       RDA also constructed RDA market, pubali market and godhuli market to fulfil the demand of the businessmen.

The Guardian: It is learned that RDA is implementing some other development projects under government finance. Would you tell us the names of those projects and also mention the progress of their implementation activities?

Chairman: Now RDA is implementing a project ‘construction of road from Gourhanga to Shahebbagar’. The length of the project is 1.2 km and 18.30m width.  It is a government granted project with the cost of 45.30 crore taka. I am hopeful to complete the project by December, 20 13. After completion the project it will make an easy and thorough communication from shahebbagar to Rajshahi-Naowgaon main road at Gourhanga point.

 

The Guardian: It is also learnt that RDA has also prepared some more development proposals for government approval, some by government fund and some by RDA fund. Would you discuss the latest state of those proposed projects?

Chairman: Very recently, the government approved the project ‘construction of road from Rajshahi court to bypass road’. The proposed road is 2.25 km in length and 19m in width. The cost of the project is 74 crore taka. Another project ‘construction of road from Natore road (RUET) to Kharkari has already been approved by ECNEC. The length of the road is 5.00 km and cost is about 87 crore taka.

In addition to this, construction of road from Shalbagan to Chandrima R/A and construction of road from Sucharan to bypass are under the process of approval by the ministry. Other than the mentioned government grant projects, three self financing residential land development projects are under implementation. These are Banalota extension area, Barnoi R/A and Prantik R/A. After completion of these projects, about 600 residential plots will be ready to allot among the interested people.

The Guardian: As a matter of fact, would you mention the sources of fund of RDA for implementing development projects by its own fund?

Chairman: RDA implemented all the residential and commercial land development projects by its own fund. The service charges and marginal benefits from the projects, rents from the different markets, truck terminals and bus terminals are the sources of fund of RDA.

Besides these, betterment fee, service providing fee for building plan approval and land use certificate are also the sources of fund. With this fund, RDA implements public demanded self financing projects after meeting up the salaries of employee and other revenue expenditure of the authority.

The Guardian: You know the recent past there was a series of news about corruption in RDA. Would you give your reaction to this and say what step you are taking to stop different corruption in RDA?

Chairman: Money embezzlement by a cashier of RDA is found out and the case is under sue. Now we are very fair in the process of providing services and if any corruption occurs then it will be taken into action on time. I think, there is no way to make any corruption if the administrative system is transparent. I have introduced a total step to make the administration transparent and accountable.

The Guardian: In the end, please give your valuable message for the present and future dwellers of Rajshahi city.

Chairman: My earnest request to the developing agencies, local government institutions and people within RDA jurisdiction to follow the master plan for any development scheme and abide by the laws of land use and building construction for making Rajshahi metropolis a green and healthy city.