ROUND TABLE CONFERENCES ON RENEWAL PROSPECT OF RURAL HABITAT

Forum for Physical Development (FPD) has started its journey to represent the idea of professionals in front of general citizen with a social commitment. This non- profitable organization destined to create a useful platform for the Professionals who want to contribute to the development of the country. FPD collects the ideas and comments of different professionals on different topics through Discussions, Seminars, and Lectures and make available for the Policy makers of the country and also publish them for the concerned citizens. In the words of Dr. Toufiq. M. Seraj, Chairman of FPD, “Our main aim is to create a platform in where the skilled, experienced and qualified people from multi-disciplined professions can represent their acquired knowledge towards the general people.”Also, Architect Anisuddin Iqbal Executive Director of FPD,  “In that case, we will do a publication by accumulating the information found on several round table conferences focusing the most significant subjects. And also, identifying some strategies to solve the problem, we will encourage the policy-makers.”

Recently, FPD was working on “Renewal Prospect of Rural Habitat in Bangladesh”. The mentioned topic was taken up as it needs vivid discussion and should involve professionals from diverse disciplines. To collect ideas on this regard and accumulate solutions from different point of view four round table conferences had been organized by FPD. Experts and Professionals have been invited to share their opinions so that new solution can come out. The idea of these conferences was to contribute in the National Housing Policy of Bangladesh by providing some noticeable policy guideline regarding resettlement of rural housing. According to Dr. Toufiq. M. Seraj, “You know that National Housing Policy is still not implemented. We will try to formulate multi-sector policy guideline through this forum and publish that. Our present discussion on Renewal prospect of rural habitat is not only a single sector issue. Utility services, disasters, environment etc are related with this.”

Professional opinion regarding the resettlement of rural habitat was, it is a very important issue that should be taken under immediate consideration. In their point of view, it is necessary to renew the rural settlement to discourage unplanned and rapid urbanization. So, it is required to make the villages more livable. There are so many positive outcomes regarding this prospect along with its upcoming urgent need. It has been raised in the conferences that, in every year, about 1% to 2% cultivable land is decreasing in Bangladesh due to building housing in rural areas.  Also, employment opportunities are declining in villages. So it is high time to think about the betterment of rural people. In addition, if employment opportunities can be provided in the rural places then rural to urban migration can be restricted that will help to lessen extra pressure on city life. Overall, if resettlement can be initiated in rural areas of Bangladesh so many noticeable possible outcomes will take place in the development of the country. For example, change will come in lifestyle of the rural people; next generation will follow the way of new life, national economic growth and living standard of people hoped to be enhanced than in present.

At the end of these four round table conferences some important issues have generated regarding the renewal prospect of rural habitat. At first, the concept that had attracted almost everyone was the Concept of “Compact Township (CT)”. Professor Dr. Selim Rashid, University of Illinois, U.S.A., gave the idea of Compact Township in the first conference. According to him CT should be a properly planned residential area containing planned housing, apartment, hospital, school, college, shops, rural industries, local government administrative body and other civic facilities. Again, it was also being emphasized that it has to be kept in mind that Compact Township should not disturb the harmony of rural lifestyle.

For compact township (CT) to be initiated first and foremost thing is to find a suitable location. Several recommendations have been derived thought the round table conferences regarding this matter.  Growth centers in rural areas were given priority in terms of choosing the location for CT. It has been raised in the discussions that that compact towns will be established focusing significant Hut-Bazars or where the infrastructures have already been improved with connection to well-designed roads and good rail transportation system. Also, it has been said that CTs have to be build above the flood level. This two issues were considered as if there will proper communication and transportation system it will be possible to build good urban-rural linkage  and development of CT above flood level will reduce the extra cost that will generate from disaster preparedness. Also, professional were emphasized on using the locally available material i.e. bamboo, fence, tin, pale etc for the construction of building in CT. In addition they emphasized on

Creating employment opportunities in CTs was one of the major concerns of the professionals.  It has been said in the conferences that, there would be economics of scale in CTs like other towns. Small business organizations would be developed there; in parallel way, small industries would be grown spontaneously. It was raised through discussions that regional production based products and agricultural industry can be encouraged to establish in rural areas.  Income of the rural people can be increased by cooperative societies in agriculture, livestock, poultry and fishery. Professionals present in the conferences also emphasized on education development for transforming agro based rural society to modernized community. Again, actions should be taken to protect small farmers from being landless. It has been said in the discussion that in village, every house should have own income generating source like Srilanka where each household has its own income source. It has also been raised in the discussions that garments industries can be decentralized towards Rangpur or Kurigram in where ‘Monga’ affected people live so that new income sources can be initiated there. Overall, the villages have to be self-sustained in terms of external environment, societal structure and economic increment.

Several environmental aspects have been considered in respect to resettlement of rural habitat.  For instance, professional said that sustainable habitat has to be ensured keeping harmony in connection with local climate and environment, agriculture and electricity production might be ensured through solar energy. Also, it has been raised bio-gas can be produced through waste management process. Environment friendly waste management should be ensured for every family. In addition they suggested, bio-gas can also be formed from the wastes of domestic ducks and hens. Main fact is that, it should be kept in mind that bio-diversity should not be changed due to housing resettlement. Several land management and administrative issues have also been focused during the discussions. Professionals emphasized on ensuring the creation of effective local government to deal with local problems. They said that to increase local resilience land can be redistributed among the landless people through the land conservation and this decisions will be made through local government.

Professional present in the conferences also emphasize on gathering local people’s opinion before taking any initiative for the resettlement. They said that, resettlement of rural housing can be a successful step if active participation of local people and quality of life standard can be ensured. According to them, rural population is self sufficient to face the natural calamities such as flood, cyclone etc in the light of experience of older people. So having followed the knowledge, experience and strategy of local people, rural housing has to be developed. So at first, opinion of local people should be taken.

Some major constrains regarding the implementation of the projects has also been discussed in the conferences. They consider that, though the idea of Compact Township sounds good but it will be difficult to execute as motivation local people will not be a easy task. People will not leave the habitat where they are living for generations. For this, at first it is necessary to select the target group and make them aware of the projects. Again, one of the major obstacles for such initiative can be the responsibility distribution and raising awareness of rural people. In addition, it is a major problem that there is no sufficient khas land except forest and char area. It will be a difficulty while acquiring land for rural resettlement. Rural people would not agree to give up their traditional values and inherited land. So, planners, policy maker and other governing bodies have to work in root level and government has to give subsidy in different aspect and also it has to use its remittance in this sector.

Author: Nasira Karim Audhuna, Research Associate, Forum for Physical Development of Bangladesh; Email: fpdbd.info@gmail.com

For more and the detail description of each conferences go to the following links.

 

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