One of the major consequences of rapid urbanization in Bangladesh has been the persistent deterioration of housing situation in metropolitan areas. The concentration of the poor in such areas and the ever-widening gap between the demand for and supply Iand for housing have led to the deyelopment of of low_income settlements on environmentally sensitive and hazard-prone lands. The problem is particularly acute in Dhaka where the poor residents have been increasingly constrained to such marginal land, in preferred sites.
The inabirity of the poor residents is largely attributed to the prevailing prolitical situation of the country, ineptitude public as they arc unable to buy or rent land of organizations, nonchalant altitude of the government and predatory nature of the formal land market in Dhaka. The urban poor ofDhaka have come to realise that they do not folm part of the privileged group(s) to which the city authoriries cater their service and that they have been left out to fend for themselves.
With this realisation the poor have sought to provide housing for themselves. In such attempts, unauthorised settlements have developed in various marginal places, especially along and over water regimes in Dhaka. Over the years development of settlements and deliberate encroachment by private and public sector development have led to the disappearance of lakes, canals, flood plains, etc. rhat existed within the city. In thls process numerous ponds and tanks have also disappeared, creating an ecological imbalance with Dhaka experiencing the worst flood in history in r9gg.
Dhaka has arso rost much of its beauty and its natural heritage. On the other hand, atlempts to creare spaces or pseudo-land over and along water bodies and swamps without proper planning and design techniques have produced undesirable outcomes and red to serious decline in envrronmental conditions in the immediate and sunounding area where such spaces have been created. Life and health of local residents as well as the city residents have put been to risk.
Considering the gravity of the problem the aim of this paper is to investrgate how the urban poor of Dhaka are constrained to marginal places and shed light on aspects which bring about this situation. This paper also aims to highlight the problems produced as a result of creation of spaces over water and suggests measure to reverse such hazardous living conditions of the urban poor in Dhaka. It is assumed that unprecedented urbanization and ineptitude ofconcerned authorities have produced conditions forcing the
55 56 U rbanization in Bangladesh urban poor to live in marginal places. The paper, thus, begins with appraisals of issues related to the urbanization of Dhaka such as its land value and the Prospect of housing provision for the poor in this city before investigating the actual problem of creating unplanned spaces for living. Information for this paper has been collected from both primary and secondary sources. The Exodus Towards Dhaka The rate ofpopulation growth for Dhaka has been.
3 percent, 9. 4 Percent and 7. 8 percent dudng the 196l-1974, 1974-1981 and l98l-1991 pe ods respectively (RAJUK, 1995). This has produced a number of unexpected outcomes in recent decades, such as rapidity of urban growth and mega-population of the city. The reason for such rapid growth is the status of Dhaka as a capital city and the centripetal nature of concentration of major activities and facilities within the city-as a result people from all over Bangladesh are atbacted towards this city.
Added to it are the prevailing political situation of the country, stagnant rural economy and nonchalant attitude of the government towards decentralization. The result is that Dhaka is suffering from over-population while other towns and rural areas are suffering for want of industries, factories, etc. Informal job opponunities have declined in areas outside Dhaka The sheer number of people living in this city makes any son of business prosper and thrive. Thus, businesses or jobs mean chances for people to survive.