The government has finalised a new Detailed Area Plan (DAP) with a block-based development system instead of plot-based development for the areas under the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) to meet the capital's housing needs.
The Ministry of Housing and Public Works issued a gazette notification in this regard yesterday.
The new DAP aims to consolidate relatively small plots by keeping sufficient open space as there is a shortage of land in the city.
The new plan will allow construction of buildings with greater heights and bring down the land acquisition cost. It will also reduce haphazard expansion of the urban area and protect low-lying urban and agricultural lands.
The DAP aims to make Dhaka a better livable city by keeping different areas' population density proportionate to civic amenities available there. It targets to develop planned infrastructures in a wider area to accommodate 2.6 crore more people by 2035.
It plans major reforms in Dhaka's most populous areas like Lalbagh, Bangshal, Sabujbagh and Gandaria, which has a population density of 700-800 people per acre – the highest in the world.
It wants to maintain a population density of 200 people per acre in central Dhaka, and 250 per acre in the Old Dhaka areas.
The DAP also aims to maintain a population density of 180 people per acre in Gazipur, Narayanganj, Savar, Purbachal and Jhilmil areas, and 150 people per acre in some other urban areas.
The new 20-year (2016-2035) Detailed Area Plan covering 1,528 sq km in Dhaka city, has already lost six years.
People involved in the housing sector said replacing the plot housing scheme with a block-based system will threaten the housing sector.
The Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) wanted the government not to approve the plan out of their concerns that if the plan is implemented, building sizes will be reduced by 33%-53%, which will drive flat prices up by at least 50% and cause flats to go beyond the purchasing power of the buyers.
Kamal Mahmud, vice-president of REHAB, told TBS, "The new DAP will create a big problem for small landowners. Around 70% of the houses are three- or four-storied buildings built on small plots. Implementing the block-based system will reduce the scope of constructing such buildings."
In December 2021, REHAB had written to the prime minister, requesting her not to implement the new Dhaka Building Construction Rules consistent with the DAP, fearing that it would affect 269 allied industries of the housing sector as well.
At that time, DAP Project Director Ashraful Islam termed the realtors' demands as "completely unreasonable".
"We have prepared the plan considering the future of Dhaka in 2035 so that no area is overpopulated. We have also proposed some rules and regulations for mixed land use to ensure environmental protection," he said.
Dr Adil Mohammad Khan, executive director of Institute for Planning and Development (IPD), told TBS, "The finalised DAP draft was changed in several places due to applications from various professionals and the REHAB. When we get the copy of the final DAP we will understand where and how the changes have been made.
"The height of buildings in different areas has been changed as a result of the application" he added.
What's in the DAP 2016-35
The Detailed Area Plan has been prepared by dividing the project area into six distinct main regions and 75 sub-regions.
To ensure proper use of land, different areas have been identified as residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional, waterbodies, forest, open space, and flood prone areas.
The new DAP has identified 57 locations for lower and lower middle-class housing where flats with a size of 650-700 sq ft will be made, said DAP Project Director Ashraful.
The new DAP includes Gazipur and Narayanganj City Corporation areas, Banshi river in Savar, Kaliganj-Rupganj and Keraniganj into Rajuk.
As per the plan, 60% of the 1,528 sq km area of Rajuk has been considered as a city area.
According to the DAP, currently, there are 228 km inter-regional connecting roads in Dhaka which would be increased to 291 km. It also plans to extend the collector road by 1,200 km.
There is also a plan for creating a 202-km cycle lane and 574 km waterways in the city.
The construction of five large regional parks, 55 water parks, 13 large eco-parks (including Bhawal forest), 13 other parks and playgrounds has also been included in the plan to create an eco-friendly city.
To ensure education and healthcare, 627 schools, 285 colleges and 287 hospitals will be constructed in the region.
The new DAP proposed to create a cultural zone surrounding the Buriganga River. It also recommended preserving the historical sites and turning them into tourism and recreation centers.
Moreover, the DAP proposes construction of six Metro rail lines, two bus rapid transits, six elevated expressways, two main roads parallel to Dhaka-Mymensingh Road, radial roads connected to two ring roads and circular waterways.
It also proposes to construct 13 inter-district bus terminals and two truck terminals around Dhaka.
The new plan recommends phased relocation of existing chemical warehouses that pose a threat to public safety.
The plan proposes to build a park with an area of about 425 acres in Keraniganj, named after the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.