Dhaka city's livability at stake

Though Dhaka has been lauded as a 'city of magic' or 'a city of the soul' in literature, the city's livability is at a low ebb. The global indicators for living standards, including communications, sewerage, fuel, water, and accommodation, are in a poor condition in Dhaka city. This capital has been ranking as one of the worst livable cities for years in various global surveys.

It ranked the third worst livable city in the world in the survey conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) last Wednesday. Among the 140 cities it was only trailed by war-torn Damascus and Lagos. There’s no room for complacency that Dhaka advanced by one notch from last year. There are five criteria for measuring the livability including stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Dhaka lags behind in the indicators of culture and environment, and infrastructure. Issues like climate and temperature, corruption, social and religious obstacles, scope for sports, food and beverage, commodity and service, road transport systems, housing, fuel and telecommunications systems are under these two criteria.

Melbourne, Vienna, Osaka, and Vancouver, cities ranking best in the index, have a much smaller population than Dhaka. The systems at Melbourne or Vienna may collapse if even a fraction of Dhaka's population was relocated there, but measures should have been taken a long ago considerating the density of the population. Dhaka's livability could be improved if proper plans were followed.

The government is trying to tackle the situation by setting up various infrastructure, but these initiatives are inadequate in comparison to the severity of the situation. There is an acute lack of coordination in development work. Coordination is missing among the institutions involved in various programmes and there is lack of efficiency too regarding management. The situation has gone out of control as there is corruption too. Political will is a prerequisite to ensure the livability of Dhaka. The problems must be highlighted irrespective of political affinity and other interests.

Experts have been calling for the formation of a strong unitary authority to save Dhaka. Even if this cannot be implemented right now, there have been proposals for coordination committees where all the institutions can undertake development plans together. There are no such initiatives on ground.