The Master Plan (MP) of Dhaka (otherwise described as DMDP-Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan (1995-2015) is a comprehensive development plan for future development of Dhaka City. It has been prepared under Section 73 of the Town Improvement Act, 1953 with the objectives of forming a frame work of development planning, preparation of sectoral master plans and feasibility studies for metropolitan infrastructure elements lacking development policies. The MP has identified few areas of Dhaka as wetlands that include flood flow zones. The intent of earmarking certain areas as flood flow zones is to protect the safety, health and welfare of the general public from negative environmental impacts within waterways and to protect and preserve natural drainage systems to ensure their continued and proper functioning. Any unauthorized interference with the flood flow zones would have devastating environmental effect and hence the MP recommended that the areas should be enabled to function properly as flood plains/sub flood flow zones and maintain basic rural nature. According to the MP, land development for residential, commercial and industrial development, including raising the level of land through land filing is strictly prohibited in the flood flow zones.
Frustrating the recommendations of the MP, land development in flood flow zones was going unabated. This resulted in serious drainage congestion subjecting Dhaka to unprecedented urban flooding in 2005 and of course in subsequent years (Nazim Bhai, Photo diyen). Most of these land development projects were lacking approval and were being implemented in areas was beyond the land ceiling prescribed in law. In almost all cases of township development by private realtors, allegations of land grabbing were common.
It was when a private developer started filling up lands in flood flow zone falling under Spatial Planning Zone 17.3 of the MP that a legal battle was first launched against such unregulated developments. It was alleged that (i) the “Modhumoti Model Town” (MMT) Project was being implemented in Flood Flow Zone, defying the restrictions imposed in the MP, (ii) that for the Project the private company Metro Makers and Developers Limited (MMDL) brought under its possession lands crossing legal ceilings, (iii) that the project was unauthorized, (iv) that the government actors have failed to restrain MMDL from earth filling in the Flood Flow Zone for its unauthorized Project, (v) that the government agencies responsible for implementing and defending the MP have categorically failed to protect the Flood Flow Zones form illegal earth filling thus jeopardising public safety and interest, (vi) that such massive unauthorized changes in the landscape of the City were causing drainage congestions and would lead to catastrophic urban flooding in future, and (vii) that third party purchasers couldn’t claim any right in an unauthorized and illegal Project.
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