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Outside Chobi Mela VI: Eyes and Scars

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

As Chobi Mela VI continues in Dhaka, we here present a visual series of images of the mass urbanization occurring in Dhaka and its consequences.

On the periphery of Dhaka, behind one of the Jatrabari Market the remains of a pond, once potable. As the city of Dhaka grows in population the need for urban housing does too. Nearly 300,000 to 400,000 people come to the city every year in search of income. Some stay temporarily, some sleep on the street but in the meantime thousands of high rises are being built for all classes. Dhaka suffers from one of the most polluted urban environments and with a low supply of drinking water. Yet the water table is very low below the ground surface. Dhaka used to be a city of fresh water ponds, as was once pictured here. Due to a lack of space in the city and the fast paced urban construction these ponds have been destroyed due to land fills. The irony lies in that as Bangladesh’s countryside slowly floods in the north and the south due to climate change,  Dhaka too will soon suffer more arriving water from the sea, making the already scarce water supply salty.

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Dhaka Mega City Post #16: Friday Urban Prayers

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

While monsoon rain falls in the neighborhood of Kallyanpur, where the urban development has been increasingly fast in an area formerly known for its many ponds only 25 years ago and now developed into one of the city’s most densely populated areas, Friday prayers are held inside a construction site next to a mosque.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The community males here must rush to the mosque if they want to pray inside, in a clean environment as the Koran suggests, due to the high population density.

Dhaka Mega City Post #15: Nimtoli Nightmare Revisited

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Old Dhaka is one, if not the most densely populated area of the city. On June 3, a factory, holding chemicals on the first floor of a residential building caught fire, spread and killed 123 people in one of the city’s biggest tragedies.

I visited that building today, because after several months in hospital care, victim number 124, Shahida Begum, 35 died today of her injuries, she had also lost her child in the fire. At the site I found Haji, owner of the building, now reconstructing. He lost 11 members of his family, including wife and children who suffocated to death unable to escape. Windows and doors are barred on all floors to avoid thieves entering but are also serious fire risks. Haji said he would normally have committed suicide, but life goes on and trees continue to grow. Asked if he would consider leaving because of the risks, he answered planes fly across the world, sometime they crash.

Dhaka Mega City Post #8: Urban Rent For Richer or Poorer

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Jahangir Alam is building an apartment building three storeys high, directly opposite the one pictured, in the Rayarbazer area, for the lower middle class, but will sit right next to a slum, that eventually will be removed as the pond it is on is being filled for more buildings. Jahangir will build 12 rooms per floor. Each room measuring 9×10 feet with an average of three people per room. Some apartments will consist of three rooms for 10 people. A single room will cost 2,500 Tk. A three room 10,000 Tk and the entire floor if anyone could afford it for 30,000 Tk.

I’m renting a house in Dhanmondi, one of Dhaka’s wealthiest areas, with 1536 sq. ft. three bedrooms and two bathrooms and living room and dining room, paying 28,000 Tk. an average of 18.23 TK (USD $0.26) per sq. ft. If you do the math, those in Rayabazer with few amenities and a central bathroom per floor will be paying 27.77 Tk per sq. ft.