FREQUENTLY, these days, the name of Dhaka as the capital city of Bangladesh and as a major hub of urban population is heard in local as well as international circuits. Dhaka is already enjoying international renown of sorts for its huge concentration of people. Its population is over 10 million already and in terms of the growth of its population size, Dhaka seems to be headed to become one of the top ten cities of the world at an early date. But notwithstanding such developments, it cannot be said that Dhaka would be truly earning its place as one of the front ranking cities of the world from the perspectives of proper services delivery to its residents, for preserving its environmental qualities, for strict demarcation of the city into different zones for different purposes and in providing recreation and aesthetic pleasures. For it is apparent that Dhaka at present is a very unplanned city and there are no signs that plans are being formulated with a sense of urgency to check the unplanned growth of Dhaka. Thus, planning is posing as a very important issue in respect of the present and future needs of the city but this is seen now as a very neglected area.
The way Dhaka city is growing, it would be no overstatement to say in the near future that it is a city of slums. According to a newspaper report based on authoritative sources, the slum population of Dhaka city numbered nearly 0.3 million in 1974. The number of the slum population was recorded at 3.4 million in 2005 or an increase of over eight times since the seventies. Thus, nearly 40 per cent of the existing population of the city are slum dwellers and their numbers are likely to fast increase in the near future because most of the migrant population to Dhaka will be compelled to seek residence in the slum areas because of their sheer disadvantaged economic conditions. The most concern raising aspect is that there seems to be no policy in operation at the moment to regulate the growth of the slums. The number of slums in Dhaka was some 2156 in 1991 which is now nearly 5000.
Not only the slums, the well established residential areas of the city are facing encroachments from those who engage in commercial and industrial activities. There are hardly plans to maintain or set up parks, community playground and other recreational outlets covering uniformly and harmoniously the entire metropolitan area. Garbage disposal system of the city is inadequate and poor by today's standards. The utility services are suffering similarly from inadequacy. Water supply torments of the people of Dhaka are too well known to be described afresh here. The residents of Dhaka, together with the rest of the countrymen, are experiencing great stresses in their lives from insufficient supply of electricity. Furthermore, completely unplanned and unceasing road diggings round the year also make normal movement of people in the city very hazardous. Waterlogging and drainage conditions of the city are also far from being satisfactory.
In each of these spheres and more, Dhaka is urgently and desperately in need of proper planning and coordinated and efficient implementation of the plans. The tenure of the present government is coming to an end. The residents of the city are one in expecting from the next government the giving of the highest priority attention to proper planning for a better future of Dhaka city.