Interviews

Ar. Kazi Golam Nasir, Chief Architect, Department of Architecture, Ministry of Housing & Public Works, Govt. of People’s Republic of Bangladesh and President, IAB

Architect Kazi Golam Nasir joined the Ministry of Housing & Public Works as the Chief Architect in the Department of Architecture, on 26 January 2015. He succeeds the position previously held by Architect Ahsanul Huq Khan, the highest ranked architect in government. Architect Nasir has previously served in various roles in the Executive Council of Institute of Architects Bangladesh. Currently, he is the president of Institute of Architect Bangladesh (IAB). 

“The work regarding Satellite Township has been going on for the past ten years, and the government has given the responsibility to two organizations, the National Housing Authority (NHA) and RAJUK.”

It can be seen that thousands of people migrating to Dhaka every day create a massive pressure on the city. What can be done in this regard?
If we compare the pre and post-independence scenarios, Dhaka, in its journey from a provincial capital to an independent state has changed significantly. This is a point of inflection because the infrastructure required for a capital state like Dhaka is vast and the influx and onrush of people have added new dimensions to it.
The country’s development, so far, hasn’t been a proportionate one. However, progressing in a balanced way will help reduce many on-going issues. Dhaka is the central hub for businesses, education, and medical services till date, and have thus, attracted people from different parts of the country to migrate here.
As an architect, I feel like a lot of people would not have lived in Dhaka if the same facilities were available in other cities at the same cost. The pressure on the Dhaka would have also been much lesser. There is a greater need for developing amenities like universities, medical services and job outside the capital and the Dhaka centric services must be decentralized to do so. A lack of competitive facilities in the other cities except for Dhaka and Chittagong lured people to come to Dhaka.
Every city has its capacity, which is right for Dhaka as well. But, some zones of Dhaka are either too densely or too scarcely populated. From the planning point of view if one acre of land has more than 70 families residing, then it will not be a proper environment for the upbringing of children. Unfortunately, most of the parts of Dhaka city don’t abide accordingly whereas a sum of only ten families in one acre of land is found in other cities. Thus, it is essential to decentralize.

Where is Dhaka lagging behind?
Developers initially started with Dhaka and then moved towards developing lands in Chittagong, Comilla, Sylhet, and Khulna. The height of the buildings, which were at max five-story previously has now started reaching for the sky. Recently, Government is thinking of providing house building loans to its employees which will be adjusted from their salary. The concept is that people can also buy a house in any district of their choice and not necessarily in Dhaka.
A rule called FAR (Floor Area ratio) which focuses on the necessity of keeping open spaces while making buildings was put forward in unison by IAB, REHAB, IEB and RAJUK and government in 2006; It also implies that if five to six people merge their land, then there will be the more green area. It often happens that such plans are passed, but never implemented. However, there are only a few developers who have made beautiful buildings with nature-friendly open spaces, abiding by the rule.
Another problem lies in the improper planning of such school zones. A plethora of schools exist in Dhanmondi which has resulted in the traffic congestion we face today. It is a widely accepted rule across the globe that schools of an area shall only serve the population of that area. However, nothing as such is followed in our country. People from different localities are crowding Dhanmondi just to avail the school facilities and the lesser number of public transport compared to private ones has also rubbed more salts to the wound.

There are water bodies and free space surrounding the boundaries of Dhaka. How far have we progressed regarding Satellite Township?
The work regarding Satellite Township has been going on for the past ten years, and the government has given the responsibility to two organizations, the National Housing Authority (NHA) and RAJUK. Partially, one such project has already started in Uttara, and another will be launched in Keranigonj. There are Detailed Area Plan (DAP) for cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, and Mymensingh. These plans are made by the governmental organization called Urban Development Directorate (UDD), and another organization named Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) is also involved here.
There is an exciting development regarding DAP of Mymensingh. Whenever planners started working in that area, they figured out what’s beneath the soil and found that the existing city was situated in an earthquake-prone region. This study showed that studying the surface was not the correct method when it comes to town planning. It is a unique study across the world, but this was a new thing for our researchers involved in town planning.

Are you incorporating the concept of social architecture in your upcoming projects?
We are doing the master plan for the total habitation of Azimpur. Keeping the playing fields intact and habitation environment-friendly, we are emphasizing more occupancy in Azimpur, Uttara, and Purbachal. The adverse side of rapid unplanned urbanization and the massive spread of technology that is that social interactions are becoming virtual day by day. Now we are not familiar with our next-door neighbors. In the absence of this interaction, the children’s are becoming crippled minded. Once mothers were worried when children didn’t come home in the evening; now they fear that children are glued to their laptops or tabs and don’t feel like going to the playground at all. The long-term effect of this will be terrible.

Our neighboring country, Sri Lanka has planned to house for people. What is Bangladesh doing in this regard?
At present, the government is working towards a new project together with NHA (National Housing Authority). According to this project, houses will be lent to the lower income group on a weekly or monthly basis rather than selling it to them. NHA is making housing for slum dwellers on rent basis.
A massive chunk of land has been reserved in the Purbachal area for this purpose. The Center for Urban Studies (CUS) has already taken the initiative in the private sector. The government can also take a scheme and give land to the developers for making an apartment for low-income people under different parameters in this regard.

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