Transport The total urban area of Dhaka is from five to seven miles wide and from 15 to 20 miles long
The total urban area of Dhaka is from five to seven miles wide and from 15 to 20 miles long, north to south. There is a single north to south thoroughfare through the whole urban area, which the Inspector General of Police estimates is blocked for 6 hours per day at railroad crossings. Needless to say, with its density inducing traffic congestion and insufficient road infrastructure, Dhaka’s traffic is horrific (http://www.newgeography.com/, 2018).
A recent World Bank study shows that Dhaka’s average traffic speed has dropped from 21km/h to 7km/h in the last 10 years, slightly above the average walking speed. Traffic gridlock eats up 3.2 million work hours per day. Another study conducted by the Copenhagen Consensus Center says that the speed in Dhaka is now 6.4km/h, and that if vehicle growth continues at its current pace, without substantial public transport the average speed may fall to 4.7km/h by 2035. The government has already struggling to improve the situation by revised Strategic Transport Plan for 20 years (2016-2035) to enhance traffic speed. In 2019, the traffic situation in the capital is expected to get a major boost with the completion of three major infrastructure projects and other major changes in public transport system. According to the RSTP, the government will build five metro rail lines, two rapid bus routes, 1,200km of new roadways, six flyovers and three ring roads in Dhaka by 2035. However, a metro rail line between Uttara and Motijheel and a rapid bus line from Gazipur to Mohakhali will be built by 2019. The metro rail will carry 60,000 passengers per hour while the BRT buses will carry 20,000 people. This will speed up Dhaka’s traffic and ensure that journeys are completed on time. The government has already started the water taxi service in Hatirjheel linking Moghbazar, Rampura and Gulshan. The service will be extended to Gulshan 2 and Baridhara. After Uber, Pathao and O vai was launched in Dhaka, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) began drafting a set of guidelines for ride sharing in the country. They are assumed to contribute to reducing congestion in Dhaka (https://www.dhakatribune.com/, 2018).
Quality of living
Dhaka ranked 214th among 231 cities around the world in terms of providing quality of living, reports Reuters. Vienna, Austria’s grand capital on the Danube river, has topped Mercer’s list for the eighth year in a row, offering the highest quality of life. The ranking of cities are based on the quality of civic amenities. It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, Rents, architecture, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport (https://en.prothomalo.com/, 2018).
Decreased water body, vegetation, wet ; cultivable land and biodiversity
Unplanned urbanization and increasing population pressure create environmental degradation of the landscape and loss of biodiversity. Encroachment on ecologically sensitive areas through unplanned construction by individual landowners as well as private developers, along with the discharge of wastewater and solid waste into water bodies is responsible for the degradation of the landscape and associated loss of biodiversity (Byomkesh et al, 2012). The aggregate effect of developments, vegetation/soft surfaces are being extensively converted into hard surfaces which impacts upon surface drainage system. Lack of appropriate drainage facilities, increased rainwater runoff, increased impervious areas, illegal encroachment and filling of natural drainage channels and garbage dumping are resulting congested drainage system and water logging. According to the report of Dhaka WASA at 2014 these problems have become severe due to encroachment on to the wetlands by real estate developers.
Unplanned construction of roads and housing developments has created huge impervious areas that do not allow absorption of rainwater. Moreover, encroachment on to water bodies, open space and the dumping of garbage in water bodies decreases the areas for rainwater recharge to underground aquifers. Again, over extraction of ground water for water supply in the city by the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) has resulted in lowering the ground water table. According to a study conducted by Institute of Water Modeling (Bangladesh), the city’s groundwater level has been falling by 3 m/year, which now stands approximately 60 m down below the surface level compared to 10 m in1970 and from the year 2000, the rate is increasingly high. In another study of Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) at 2010, the level has depleted down to 61.18 m below the surface in Dhaka city. Approximately 90% of the city’s water supply comes from ground water which is higher than the estimated 87% by DWASA. As the ground water table is lowering alarmingly, DWASA is attempting to shift towards surface water for new sources. But the water quality of the peripheral rivers of Dhaka city has been severely damaged in recent years due to municipal and industrial untreated wastewater that are discharged into these rivers. In addition to that, the increased rate of urbanization and illegal encroachment has reduced the amount and volume of surface water bodies around Dhaka city (Dakua ei al, 2014).
But, expanding population is not solely responsible for groundwater depletion whereas various other factors such as the deliberate establishment of deep tube wells, reduction of recharge capacity due to rapid growth of urban structures and climate change altogether results in huge drop of water level throughout the city. Rapid decline in groundwater augment the city’s exposure towards multiple risks including land subsidence, groundwater pollution and most importantly paucity of available fresh water that might ultimately results in an urban disaster.
Sewerage & Waste management
The waste disposal method typically practiced in Dhaka is open dumping in the low-lying areas, both inside and on the peripheries of the city, causing severe land and water pollution. Recently constructed some shaded waste collection points at some central points has made some inadequate improvement. According to a WASA, the pipe borne sewerage system is present in less than 30per cent urbanized area of the city where water connection is increasing at a faster rate than sewer connection; which is not desirable in maintaining an environmentally friendly living area. Dhaka’s solid waste management system has seen no major improvement in the past few years despite various initiatives taken by the two city corporations; though the authorities pledged to turn the city into a clean, green, livable, digital and smart metropolis at 2011. Generally, DNCC and DSCC dispose solid wastes at two landfills in Aminbazar and Matuail. They are unable to process solid waste properly even after applying the traditional landfill method (https://www.dhakatribune.com, 2018).
Dhaka has been struggling with air pollution for several years. Brick kilns, vehicles run by fuels with higher level Sulphur. Construction works have been identified as major sources of air pollution. The air quality declines during the dry months – from October to April – but improves in the monsoon. The situation is very serious, experts say, pointing out that five of the top 10 causes of deaths in Bangladesh are related to air pollution (https://www.dhakatribune.com/, 2018).
The number of automobiles has been increasing in Dhaka city at the rate of at least 10 to 20% annually, which has been contributing to air pollution on the one hand and traffic congestion on the other. The two major sources of air pollution are vehicular emissions and industrial emissions. The vehicular emissions are caused by poorly maintained old trucks, buses and other motor vehicles, while the industrial sources include brick kilns, fertilizer factories, spinning mills, tanneries, garments, bread and biscuit factories, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, metal workshops, etc. (Rana 2011). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed an Air Quality Index (AQI) to report air quality. Where Dhaka is ranked as one of the worse polluted cities (https://www.dhakatribune.com/, 2018) where the quality of air is extremely unhealthy (https://www.thedailystar.net/, 2018).
Dhaka is surrounded by five major rivers — Buriganga, Sitalakhya, Turag, Dhaleshwari and Balu and these are polluted with heavy metals. The surface water treatment plants operated by Dhaka WASA are not equipped to remove the heavy metals cause the plants are operated by conventional (rapid sand filters) method. Besides, the rivers are used as the source of surface water treatment plants and the same water is also a source of household use. As Dhaka Metropolitan Area hosts more than 40% of the industries in the country where Most of the industries in these clusters either do not have rudimentary effluent treatment facilities and industrial effluents directly discharged into the rivers. The quality of surface water has been worsening in the rivers, lakes and canals of Dhaka due to increasing anthropogenic activities. The primary sources of water contamination are industrial effluents, sewage and domestic waste that are directly discharged into the rivers. About 70% of Dhaka city dwellers do not have access to the public sewer system. In most cases, the effluent from septic tanks and wastewater generated from buildings are disposed of into nearby drains, which ultimately fall into the surrounding rivers or other water bodies and pollutes water (Dewan et al, 2012).