Satellite towns are the only answer
Staying away from the hustle and bustle of the city is a choice now. In fact this is not only a choice, but also a necessity because of the pressure on space and the cost of land in the metropolis. With this and growing industrial activity on the outskirts and neighbouring districts the government is also thinking to promote satellite towns.
However instead of allowing an unhealthy competition among developers, the government can go for a comprehensive plan. The plan needs far-reaching plan to fulfill the growing infrastructure needs of the city. The satellite cities needed, but the government has to create such facilities without affecting the ground water potential in those areas.
The benefits of satellite towns are manifold. They would essentially reduce congestion in the city, under the assumption that those living in such areas would be working in the industrial units closer to them and would not be required to travel from and to the city. They were also expected to act as an urban catchment region for those migrating from the villages to the city.
The idea of creating a satellite township north and south of Dhaka has to be pursued, at least to disperse high economic potential industries. The government can only make the policy formats and lay strict development guidelines and leave the rest to the market. With the national economic policies allowing high levels of foreign direct investment in the real estate sector, the government should only set the ball rolling under a regulatory framework.
The lesson for any future satellite town is to have a mass rapid transit system to the mother city and have a strong local body with technical skills to manage and maintain the infrastructure, something that had been underscored over the decades.
Satellite towns would go a long way in addressing the growing aspirations of middle-class households to buy a house/apartment, something difficult for them to do in the city considering the rising realty prices. But their dreams may remain so, if development of satellite towns is not matched with a creation of a reliable mode of mass transport network, associated important facilities such as schools and hospitals, and above all good basic infrastructure. For those living in the city, satellite towns could help stabilise the land prices. More importantly, for industrial units it would translate into regions supplying them manpower and promising to reduce their expenditure on transport of employees. With several factors driving the demand for such facilities, the need is to develop the satellite towns with adequate infrastructure on a fast track mode.