What is a liveable city? It is one which shows concern for the wellbeing of the citizens and caters to their needs. It not only ensures provisions that the citizens require through appropriate planning and development, but also ensures equitable access to those by all. In other words, the liveable city incorporates the basic physical and social infrastructure on the one hand and access to these by all through good governance. A liveable city is a place of opportunities and living at ease.
Now, a city is a place for all. It is a place for the young and the old, for the strong and the infirm, for the working and non-working groups, for pre-school children, students, workers, retired people and dependants; for men and women, for rich and the poor. It is to be accommodating to inhabitants, commuters and visitors.
The needs of all these people vary. It includes housing, income opportunities, education, healthcare, leisure, transport and utility services in an environment of security and wellbeing. It is many things for many people. As cities around the world try to cope with these multi-sectored provisions in the face of ever growing population and technological transformations, capital resource and governance are becoming challenges to be faced. Each city faces these challenges differently. Some are more responsive and therefore successful, where people are better served than in others. Needless to say, most cities and urban centres in Bangladeshare either indifferent to the needs of great majority of its people or, at best, are focused to the demands of the rich and the powerful at the cost of the majority. Most of the common citizens lead an insecure life with inadequate basic facilities and suffer injustice on a daily basis. For them life is unliveable and without much hope for improvement.
Why is it so? Lack of capital resource often constrains development, but more often it happens because of failures in development planning and governance.
The four basic aspects of city which have become matters of acute concern to all are ‘security, environment, housing and mobility’. With no capital investment but with a fresh and sensible approach and appropriate planning and governance, many of the severe drawbacks can be removed to improve and transform our urban life to a more liveable level.
Lack of security has become a matter of acute concern to us all in both urban and rural areas, to rich and poor alike. It relates to threat to life, person and property. Crimes go without punishment, and according to peoples perception (over 95 % of respondents in a recent survey) police are the most corrupt of all government organs and protect the criminals rather than the victims. By another survey, average income of the police force is 1000 times their legal income. It has been reported that a commotion occurred in the Bureau of Anti-corruption because the DG failed to deliver suitable postings to his deputies as promised in return for bribes. Crimes range from murder, mugging, snatching and extortion, gender based crime. Extortion has become a fact of life. Gender violence is so prevalent that a study reports one in 25 girls in garment industry are raped at workplace and one in 20 en route to work. This is not reported by them due to social stigma, not to speak of many lesser violations. Police is, as is well known, often a perpetrator.
It is necessary to act upon this menace as an emergency. Security of life, person and property is fundamental to both survival and wellbeing. The state's constitutional responsibility of safety and security of citizens and their property is ignored. Sweeping measures for cleansing the political parties, the administration and the police administration is necessary. The widespread failure of law enforcement and interference with due process of law by the powerful, warrant making the failure of law enforcement and interference with its enforcement a punishable offence, to be monitored and pursued by an independent institution within the governance. Expansion of police force and strengthening it alone can only expand and strengthen the hands of injustice
Lighting and Illumination: Our darkened and poorly lit streets harbour crime. The city collects an enormous amount on street lighting, without maintaining the facility properly. The lights go off a fortnight after replacement of bulbs. The question arises in this connection, why do the tube lights burn out so quickly, although the life of a tube is known to be 4-5 years at our homes.
Enhancement of security of life and property can reduce need for vehicular transport for many school going children and women, reducing traffic jams.
More security can improve investment climate, encourage gainful work and improve productivity, bringing economic prosperity to citizens and income to the city, at no extra cost.
Improving Environment and Services
Environmental degradation has earned Dhaka the distinction of the most uninhabitable city on earth. Other urban centres fair better in respect of air pollution but otherwise deserve similar mention. Indiscriminate pollution of air , water bodies and land, parallel to steady depletion of natural regenerative agents like vegetation, forests and encroachment on lowlands, rivers and water channels is endangering life and the ecological balance. This is a governance problem relating to enforcement of law. Our record in the past one year has shown that it can be improved if we are serious. The law enforcement should be expanded to include encroachment on lowlands, river and water bodies, to industrial and clinical waste, and to air pollution by brick fields and industries.
Our urban centres do not appear to have concern for open spaces and city greenery. There is a need for Department of Open Spaces and City Greenery for development and preservation parks, open spaces, plazas, roundabouts and roadside greenery. The present policy of leasing out open spaces to business houses has led to replacement of greens with commercial structures and bill boards, which are damaging the ecology, aesthetics and amenities of the city. This is not sanctioned in law and the officers responsible should be called to book.
Collected from Internet