Thursday, 7 July, 2022

Climate reality: Plan cities anew

Climate reality: Plan cities anew

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Bangladesh, the largest deltaic plain in the world, is crisscrossed by hundreds of big or small rivers and their tributaries and distributaries. These rivers, originating mainly from upstream regions in India, flow over the entire land and finally empty into the bay in the south. Floods visit this lower riparian and low-lying country almost every year. Urbanisation, industrialisation and road communication infrastructure as well as crop production and other economic activities therefore need to be planned keeping likely floods in clear view. But things are not being done accordingly. Adequate attention has not been paid to keeping urban centres free from flooding. The ongoing flood in Sylhet city and adjoining areas due to flowing of the nearby rivers above the danger levels is a case in point.

Overflow of the rivers is not the only cause of floods or a flood-like situation in cities. Faulty designs of the cities’ drainage system also lead to water logging even after a moderate to light rainfall. It is the internal and man-made factor behind floods in cities. Flawed urban planning actually invites water logging and floods. The fast changing climate factors only aggravate the situation. And the current flood in Sylhet is not an isolated reality; water logging in the capital and other cities is an agonising experience of the citizens.

Cities in the country are left to their own destiny; those are allowed to expand in an unplanned and haphazard manner. The results are already before everyone’s eyes. And climate realities will only exacerbate the situation and make cities unliveable. Urban centres grown in their own way will not remain compatible with changed environmental and climatic condition. So it is time to rise to the changed climatic reality and plan cities afresh. 

With the rapid socio-economic growth of the country, the urbanisation process is advancing at a faster pace. The expansion of the old and also of the freshly developing urban areas needs to be planned keeping changing climate realities in clear view. Old way of urban expansion will only lead to additional miseries for us. It is wise to strike when the iron is hot.