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A constitutional stipulation for the demarcation of Bangladesh capital city of Dhaka’s boundary has been ignored for the past four decades since Bangladesh’s birth, bdnews24.com reported.
The matter has not been legally settled but state institutions including police and the city corporations have fixed the boundary limits to suit their needs.
Urban planners say this is hampering efforts to gather vital information regarding the city’s size, population, and literacy rate.
Allegations are there that many establishments are having problems providing services because of the capital’s undefined area.
Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, however, claims he is unaware of the issue.
“Nobody ever told me anything about this,” he said to a bdnews24.com, adding that he would discuss the matter with stakeholders.
Rulers have always chosen 400-year-old Dhaka city as their administrative centre.
Mughal ruler Islam Kha was the first to make the city the capital of Bangla in 1610. Back then, its area had been left amorphous.
British colonial rulers chose Dhaka as capital of East Bengal after the 1905 partition of the Bengal province.
Dhaka remained the provincial capital in the Pakistani era, too.
The first Constitution of Bangladesh chose Dhaka as the country’s capital and said its boundary would be fixed by law.
But no precise information on Dhaka’s area could be had from the Dhaka Division, district, metropolitan and RAJUK authorities.
The boundary outlined by capital development authority RAJUK for project implementation spills beyond the one prepared by the city corporations, and even the one found in the Dhaka district map.
“The area fixed for RAJUK?s projects extends to Gazipur City Corporation in the north, Dhaleswari River in the south, Rupganj’s Shitalakkhya River in the east, and Dhaleshwari and Bongshi rivers in the west,” Ashraf Ali Akhand, one of the key RAJUK planners, told bdnews24.com.
He said RAJUK had fixed the boundary by issuing circulars.
Akhand said the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, WASA, and the city corporations had tailored Dhaka’s limits to their needs.
“A single and precise boundary is not important here,” he added.
The Dhaka City Corporation was bifurcated in 2011 but the law did not clarify whether the undivided city corporation area represented the capital?s land limits.
Police officials say the DMP map serving as a guide to maintain law and order has been drawn up on the basis of population.
Its Assistant Director Tawhidul Islam explained that population figures provided the yardstick for fixing the area under each police station.
“Some DMP police station areas extend beyond the city corporations,” he told bdnews24.com.
Police stations at Hazaribagh, Kamrangirchar, Demra, Kadamtali, Jatrabarhi, and Badda, among others, cover areas well outside the city Corporations.
Former deputy commissioner of Dhaka Abdul Mobarak says it is important for Dhaka being the capital to have a precise boundary.
“Dhaka’s boundary as the capital has not been demarcated and no law has been framed for this,” Mobarak, an election commissioner, said. “This issue should be discussed with importance.”
Recently, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon, too, demanded the delineation of the capital’s area.
The Centre for Urban Studies Chairman Nazrul Islam says it is the government’s responsibility to do so.
He advised policymakers to sit with urban planners and geologists to resolve the issue.
Islam said the government could formally accept any of the boundaries as fixed by RAJUK, DMP or two city corporations.
“It can also fix boundaries outside the ones shown by these entities,” he told bdnews24.com.
He cited Canberra, in Australia, and Islamabad, in Pakistan, as suitable examples.
“The capital in many countries is only known as the capital city,” the urban planner pointed out. “No other authorities are there.”
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