Vol 9 - No. 4


SOUTH ASIA: BANGLADESH                                                                                                                       News Briefs


       (Afghanistan and Myanmar in the 
         map are not members of SAARC)

Water logging in Dhaka city


Dhaka is a city, which has been an urban settlement for centuries. In fact, the city can be traced back to the 7th century! Besides being the capital of an independent nation, since December 16 1971, it has been a political, cultural and economic centre of this region. Against this background the deterioration of Dhaka's urban settings have ushered in nothing but misery to her once glorious history and sourced utmost tribulation to her current inhabitants. Harbouring a massive population of over 12 million and counting, most are sceptical about the functional ability of Dhaka as capital, given her inadequate performance in dealing with staggering urban challenges and the constant shortfall in providing other urban services that are concerned with basic human amenities like water, gas and electricity.

The only comfort is that Dhaka has not collapsed yet, but sadly most fear that it certainly is going there. It has been predicted that by 2015 Dhaka will be the second largest city in the world in terms of population, which is expected to be 22.8 million by then. The question that is on everybody's mind is if the situation of Dhaka is this dire now, then how would the capital be able to respond to the needs of her citizens in the coming years?

Certainly is not easy to manage a city like that of Dhaka; however it also has to be acknowledged that neither is it a picnic to live in such an impossible city. Take the case of the hideous phenomenon called "water logging" that occurs every time it rains in the capital. A lot of discussions and remedy strategies are on the table but at the end of the day, the ordinary citizens wretchedly realise the shortfall of the city management in tackling this problem as clearly the situation is deteriorating with each rainfall. And as for reasons, clogged drains and canals filled are blamed but why would the drains be clogged and city's canals be filled up when there are certainly sufficient departments and adequately manned out there to properly maintain these lifelines of the capital?

Water logging in the capital is not an overnight sensation so would not that mean the authorities out there to ensure a soothing environment for the proper functioning of the capital have failed miserably year in and year out? Not only is the capital brought down to a virtual standstill but also the economy is affected and people's sufferings reach a new height every time the city is submerged under rainwater.

It is fairly understood that urbanisation is one of the most powerful realities of the 21st century and Dhaka is one of the fastest growing mega-cities in the world with an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 new migrants added to the existing capital population annually. This massive influx of population is indeed having its impact on the capital and it has been noticed that Dhaka Metropolitan area is expanding towards the Northerly direction. Studies have found out the expansion of the city along the road-rail corridor of Dhaka-Tongi-Joydebpur-Gazipur and further northbound expansion along the road corridor of Sripur-Bhaluka-Gaforgaon, Trisal-Mymensing. And in the north-eastern part are the road-rail corridor from Dinajpur to Khulna and the northern corridor outlying areas of Dhaka-Comilla-Feni-Chitagaong. However despite such expansion and "development", real concern towards the well-being of Dhaka was never sincerely addressed from the city management point of view, not at least to the deserving extent. And the water logging, like many other problems, is simply an outcome of such insincerity. Even though lots have been said concerning this matter, it seems that the magnitude of the problem is also multiplying and defying all the efforts of the authorities, who seem as helpless as the citizens in this crisis.

Now every time clouds hover over the skies of Dhaka it ushers a hushed tense air amongst the citizens. Some say the effects of water logging are equivalent to the hartals and all the negativity the hartals used to bring to the capital, as Dhaka would be dragged down to a virtual standstill, while crores of the nation's capital would go to waste and people's misery knew no bounds. Ask the conscious mind, if that's how a nation's capital should perform? It is acknowledged that efforts are underway for the betterment of the situation but the truth is the steps are belated and many fear that the damage has already been done. Experts explain that the city management for the last two decades or so could not just address the needs of the changing contours of a developing city like Dhaka. It is understandable that there are administrative and financial restrictions. However supporting efforts of urbanisation in the utmost sustainable manner is critical not just from urban infrastructural aspects but also for a nation's economic and social growth. But the urban governance of Dhaka was always somewhat inadequate to establish the capital as a functional urban city. It has failed and continues to fail to harvest social, economic and environmental benefits for her citizens to the relevant extent. And water logging in the capital is a dire example of the haphazard and flawed way of response to massive urbanisation that the capital is experiencing for the last two or so decades.

The capital has already a handful of challenges which she struggles to meet with dignity. But unlike many other problems that of water logging is somewhat different as it is a wrong that has been deliberately practised and strategically ignored. And when pointed out excuses are showered by the authorities from all levels and remedy strategies summoned which now has come down to a mimicry procedure during the monsoon season. It often seems that the responsibilities of the respective authorities are only limited to mumbling negligent excuses instead of doing actual work. This only reflects the disregard towards the deserved well being of the taxpaying citizens. But enough is enough and it is the right of the citizens to experience betterment of the situation caused by corrupt officials and land grabbers.

[Source: The Independent]


News Briefs



Security agencies prepares fresh list of top militants: Security agencies have prepared a fresh list of top militants, their kingpins and political mentors in the country's south-western region, as they launched a drive on September 5 to arrest the criminals. Names of 280 armed operatives of different outfits and criminal groups, 80 linchpins and as many as 150 political mentors, have been included in the list, officials said. A number of high officials of law enforcement agencies in the region confirmed that a fresh list has been made, but declined to disclose the exact timeframe of the drive. "Those people may be influential because of their political clout or other powers. When they shelter or patronise criminals, they also become criminals in the eyes of law," Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police of Khulna Range Sheikh Hemayat Hossain said. "Our action is now against those who are criminals," the DIG added. The list prepared in 2004 had names of some 2,200 criminals of 12 militant outfits and crime rackets, along with a number of their political patrons, while the second list prepared in September-November of 2008 included names of 2,847 criminals and their godfathers.

Meanwhile, sources said that the process of preparing a fresh list started after a directive from the Government amidst escalating violence and killings in the 10 militant-infested Districts of the south-west. At least 269 people have been killed, mostly by different militant outfits, in the 10 south-western Districts since January 2009. Kushtia tops the list, with 70 murders, followed by 49 in Jhenidah, 46 in Jessore, 30 in Khulna, 26 in Chuadanga, 12 in Meherpur, 11 in Satkhira, nine in Bagerhat, and eight each in Narail and Magura.

Further, State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku stated, on September 10, that the Government would get tough against the militants in the south-west if they did not return to normal life. "They should grab the opportunity of the present democratic system. If not, the Government will intensify the ongoing crackdown in the region to capture them," Tuku declared while talking to reporters at his secretariat office after a meeting with US Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Michael S .Owen. Tuku said that they had a discussion on a wide range of issues. The US official offered training and technical assistance to the Police and Rapid Action Battalion, he added. The Daily Star, September 11, 2009.

Foreign militants use country as transit point, reveals arrested ARCF militant: The arrested top leader of the India Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), Mufti Obaidullah, revealed during interrogation that militants fighting in Jammu and Kashmir have regularly used Bangladesh as a transit point to travel to Pakistan and have built safe havens in that country to shelter and train militants for terrorist operations in the region. Obaidullah said Pakistani militants crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to enter India to run terrorist operations and fight with Government forces in Jammu and Kashmir and then cross the border into Bangladesh to fly back to Pakistan. "As it was tough to cross back to Pakistan through the India-Pakistan border, the Mujahideen would cross to Bangladesh and then left for their destinations using fake passports and visas," the interrogation statement said. He said that his student Selim and close associate Jalal helped him in this operation. Obaidullah also said he had built a safe-house in Habiganj in 2002 to shelter fugitive terrorists, and recruit and train Bangladeshis to take part in terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan. Obaidullah reportedly built the safe-shelter under the cover of a kindergarten named 'Noor Shah Islami Kindergarten' in Habiganj District. One of the operations chiefs of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) in Bangladesh, Faisal alias Khurram Khaiyam alias Abdullah, provided BNR 18,000 in two installments to Obaidullah to construct the house.

In his statement, Obaidullah said that several other militants in Bangladesh visited his safe-house, including Moulana Mohiuddin, who he knew from the Deoband madrassa (seminary), and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) leader Mufti Abdur Rouf. Later, the then ARCF chief, Asif Reza, ordered Habibullah and Jamal to open a training camp for Bangladeshi recruits that would also serve as a safe shelter for Pakistani and Indian militants, according to Obaidullah's statement. In 2005, Obaidullah met ARCF chief Amir Reza, Asif Reza's brother, at Khurram's house near the Noorani mosque in Dhaka's Goran area. The Daily Star, September 2, 2009.


[South Asia Intelligent Review]



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