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«Planned Decentralization: Aspired Development Decentralization in Urban Land-Use Planning in Bangladesh: Rationality of the Scene Behind a Screen Md. ...»

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Planned Decentralization: Aspired Development

Decentralization in Urban Land-Use Planning in

Bangladesh: Rationality of the Scene Behind a Screen

Md. Shahinoor Rahman

Lecturer, BUET-Japan Institute of Disaster Prevention and Urban Safety

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology

Board Member (National and International Liaison), BIP

Email: shahinoor@jidpus.buet.ac.bd

Muhammad Ariful Islam

Joint Secretary, Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP)

Senior Manager (Planning & Research), Sheltech (Pvt.) Ltd.

E-mail: airftushar@gmail.com Background Bangladesh is a small south Asian country having high population density of 1019 persons per km2 (UN Data, 2011) and rapid population growth. The urban area of Bangladesh is facing rapid horizontal expansion due to rapid population growth in all urban areas in the country. Total four large metropolitans, fifty eight medium and more than four hundred small urban areas have one quarter of the total country population (UNICEF & CUS, 2010). Therefore it becomes an important issue to prepare Land-use Plan for the cities to manage the growth and development. After the liberation of Bangladesh, there was a little effort to prepare land-use plan. Haphazard urban growth along with poor governance made inconvenient urban life in most of the cases. In recent time, the Government of Bangladesh has been initiated preparing land-use plan for the urban areas to ensure better urban living. However, prepare appropriate land-use plan is not a simple task at all.

In recent days, decentralization in Bangladesh is a burning issue for social scientists and urban planning professionals. Much of the recent debate on decentralization in Bangladesh is focused on ‘local government’. Experts opined that local government tiers or levels should be governed by elected officials. However, the process of decentralization should be ensured through more people participation in local government. Our government can pursue for effective decentralization through devolving power to grass-root levels and strengthening local government system.

Little attention has been paid in the public debate as the local governments play World Town Planning Day 2013 5 Planned Decentralization : Aspired Development minor role in public service provision. For example, education sector has shown success in service provision in decentralized way. Nevertheless, until now no authority addresses the urban land use planning as an issue of decentralization. Thus, this paper is an attempt to focus on the practice of urban land use planning in relation to the autonomy, participation, capacity to address and understand the decentralization in planning. Special emphasis is given on determining the importance of decentralization in urban land use planning, identifying the problems in decentralization and formulating suggestions.

Theoretical Framework Decentralization is also an important issue in policy debate. When centralized government faces various problems of complex activities, decentralization seems as the ultimate solution. In case of service provision to the people or empowerment of the local people, decentralization is a crucial strategy. It is always effective if problems are identified locally, and solutions are suggested on the basis of local needs, characteristics and capabilities. In decentralization, measures which are realistic, practicable and acceptable to the local people can be taken at lower costs by the government.

For the general understanding of decentralization we can take in mind the famous and useful definition of decentralization by Rondinelli, (1981): the transfer of responsibility for planning, management, and resource-raising and allocation from the central government to (a) field units of central government ministries or agencies;

(b) subordinate units or levels of government; (c) semi-autonomous public authorities or corporations; (d) area-wide regional or functional authorities; or (e) NGOs.

Similarly, Bennet (1990) differentiates decentralization from intergovernmental and market based decentralization. The types of decentralization and the dimension of

decentralization are very wide. There are three principle types of decentralization:

deconcentration, delegation, and devolution (Ahmad et. al 1998). However, these types of decentralization also differ along fiscal, administrative, and political dimensions (Kaiser, 2006). The political decentralization is the power distribution and accountability, administrative decentralization is the focus from central to local in public administration and the fiscal decentralization is the revenue rising and spending autonomy of local government. Here, Kaiser (2006) describes delegation as the transfer of responsibility for decision making and the administration of public functions to local governments or semi-autonomous organizations not wholly controlled by the central government, but ultimately accountable to it. Therefore this paper is aiming to understand the decentralization in urban land use planning form

–  –  –

the delegation point of view and from the administrative and political dimension of decentralization.

According to the Pourashava Ordinance-1977; the area that has more than fifty thousand population with density of more than 1500 persons per square kilometer and three-fourth population are engaged in non-agriculture activity, is called urban area. However there are categories in urban area which is discussed in the next section of this paper.





There are many definitions and discussion on urban land use planning. According to Canadian institute of planning, urban land use planning is "the scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities". However, there are different types of land use planning depending on scale like master plan, urban area plan and detail area plan.

Different administrative advantages can be achieved through decentralization such as overcome limitations of centrally-controlled planning system; make officials knowledgeable about local needs; lead to equality in allocation of government resources; and develop administrative capability among local government institution.

All these things are required for land use planning. Decentralization involves the formulation and implementation of plans concerning the locality at the local level. A system of actually decentralized administration improves the way preparing and implementing the land use plan. It helps to collect detailed and accurate information about local conditions such as existing land use, demanding land use, people’s movement, travel behavior, housing needs and some other information that are relevant. As a result formulated plan becomes relevant, implementable and acceptable to the concerned local people. Development Management becomes easier under a decentralized system because it increases flexibility and responsiveness, and also serves as an aid to coordination among the various agencies involved in planning and implementing land use plan at the local level. At the same time, decentralization ultimately provides the opportunity to participate in development planning and management to the citizens; restrains the control over development activities by local elites; and allows local leaders to locate services and facilities more effectively within communities. All these things are fundamental to integrate isolated areas into regional economies and to monitor the implementation of development projects more effectively.

–  –  –

Urban Local Government and Land-use Planning It is important to know the administrative and political structure of Bangladesh for two reasons. Firstly, it is necessary to understand the structure of government in decentralization discussion. Secondly, decentralization in urban land use planning comes with the administrative and political decentralization. The Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh has been contemplating decentralization of administration since the country became independent in 1971. Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan) suffered under an authoritarian and centralized system of administration for a long time, and regional development was affected seriously. In different times, Bangladesh government tried to decentralize in different sectors.

However, there is strong political debate on rationality on the decentralization for such a small country.

Devolution of political power to the local level is incomplete in the present system of decentralization in Bangladesh. It is more deconcentrated in nature (Paul and Goel, 2010). There are multiple layers of sub-national government below the central government. The highest levels of sub-national government are the administrative divisions. The headquarters of the seven administrative divisions are the major cities in Bangladesh. Below the divisions, there are 64 districts working as deconcentrated units of the central government.

In urban Bangladesh, two types of local government exist: municipalities (pourashavas) and city corporations. Ten city corporations are operated in Dhaka North, Dhaka South Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur, Gazipur, Narayangonj and Comilla. However, this paper is mainly about the specific task of urban authority. So this paper seeks to the delegation types of decentralization rather than devolution and deconcentration of local government.

For controlling the development and growth of the city there are development authorities for four large cities in Bangladesh. The control area of development authority is larger than the municipal authority. Therefore, development authorities are now responsible for the preparation of urban land use plan for their jurisdiction.

There are more than three hundred medium and small municipalities along with eleven city corporations in the country and these are known as Pourashava.

Following repeated assertions and statements of intent, the Government of Bangladesh embarked on a massive program of decentralization in 1982. The move resulted in the creation of a new and extremely important unit of local government.

Still there is an effort to declare New City Corporation and Pourashava. So, the

–  –  –

decentralization in this context is not abolished. Thus, the number of development authority and municipal authority will be increased in future.

In the case of land use planning, decentralization required as per the needs of urban area and also after the administrative and political decentralization. In case of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh has the first experience of the land use planning in 1959 through the development plan named ‘Dacca Mater Plan, 1959’. Later, another three major cities prepared their land use plan. Newly formed two metropolitans are now working on their land use plan. There is also a recent effort to prepare land use plan for the 223 small and medium urban areas under the projects of Upazila Town Infrastructure Development Project (UTIDP) and District Town Infrastructure Development Project (DTIDP). But, rest of urban areas will be planned in the next phase under the same project.

The four city development authorities are under the Ministry of Housing and Public Works. On the other hand, all urban local government authorities like City Corporations and Pourashavas are under the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. Thus, concerned ministry is different in case of land use planning in Bangladesh. In addition, four large cities have both development authority and city corporation.

Legal Basis

In Bangladesh, development authorities are separated from municipal authority.

All metropolitans have own act or ordinance. For the capital city, urban land use planning follows the ‘Town and Country Planning Act, 1953’. In this Act, section 73 (1, 2, 4) stated that “As soon as may be after the provisions of the Act comes into force, the authority shall prepare a Master Plan for the area within its jurisdiction indicating the manner in which it proposes that land should be used (whether by carrying out thereon of development or otherwise) and the stages by which any such development should be carried out.

…. any such plan may, in particular, define the sites of proposed roads, public and other buildings and works, or fields, parks, pleasure-grounds and other open spaces or allocate areas of land for use for agricultural, residential, industrial or other purposes of any class specified in the Master Plan.

….. Any person objecting to the plan or part thereof shall file objection with the [Government] within sixty days from the date of the publication of the plan.”

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