Urban Decentralization & Sustainable Development in Bangladesh
The present trend of planning practice is mostly oriented towards planning of cities and towns in Bangladesh. This involves huge amount of financial allocation/grants every year for the development and improvement of urban facilities and utility services for only 20% of the country's population living in The urban areas. In absence of appropriate planning guidelines regarding the planned development of small urban centers at the local and regional level, !He important cities specially the major divisional headquarters (such as, Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna; Rajshahi etc.) along with other important district towns of the country are experiencing tremendous pressure of urbanization for the last one and a half decade. Moreover, the rural to urban migration which is increasing at an alarming rate in search of shelter and occupation mainly, is acting as a big threat to the planned growth of the major division cities. As a consequence, urban dwellers living in the major cities are facing problems like overpopulation, unemployment, lack of utility and services, traffic congestion. Lack of housing and recreational facilities etc. As a part of their every day life. Ultimately the cities are becoming overcrowded and dirty. as a result air, water and noise pollution is taking a devastating shape in the urban areas of the country. Hundreds of city dwellers specially the rickshaw pullers, drivers of different vehicles, regular road users and small children are becoming prey to various diseases like- blood pressure. Headache, eye infection, heart diseases, problems in the respiratory system, various skin diseases, cancer etc. So. Decentralization of the urban activities among the thana and district headquarters can be very effective in getting rid of the present trend of unplanned and haphazard urbanization in the country. Proper initiatives can also be taken to develop small townships with respect to the region's own Potentials providing necessary administrative, economic/industrial activities, health, educational, recreational, housing and infrastructural facilities within the same town boundary. These urban centers should have adequate road/rail or water transport as well as telecommunication linkage with the respective district and divisional headquarter at the same time. This kind of decentralized urbanization can help reduce rural to urban migration to a great extent encouraging local inhabitants reside in the surrounding villages and engage themselves in the economic industrial activities at the thana or district headquarter level. In addition to this, the process of urban decentralization can ensure a sustainable local development throughout the whole country; which in turn can contribute the planned and pollution free healthy growth of the existing cities and towns as well to keep our cities inhabitable and clean, We must develop planning for our majority (around 80%) of the total population living in the rural areas first. Therefore; this is the time to go for evaluation of the past; and accordingly, let's try to rethink matters from a different perspective form now on...!