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From Egypt to Mahenjodaro to Pataliputra, the ancient cities of the past were located either beside the Nile, Indus or Ganges.
We are a nation rich in rivers. Rivers run through our history and folklore, and link us as a people. For Dhaka, to develop from a city to a Megacity, Buriganga also play a vital role. Dhaka has an inseparable relationship with Buriganga – it’s lifeline. But we have been ignoring that fact and in making the river disappear, we cannot continue to make life possible.
Thanks to acute environmental pollution and a section of influential quarters engaged in encroaching upon and grabbing bit by bit, the river on which Dhaka grew up for over hundreds of years has been stealthily, shrinking and slowly dying.
The cancer of water pollution is engendered by our abuse of our rivers. If we ignore this cancer for much longer, the romance of environmental concern will fade in the shadow of the grim realities of rivers and bays where all forms of life smothered by untreated wastes can no longer sustain. To trace the history of a river or a raindrop…is also to trace the history of the people beside. Rivers always have been the guides, which conducted the footsteps of the first travelers. When they flow by our doors, the dwellers on their banks at length accompany their currents. The changing phases of Buriganga too mark the growth of Dhaka from the first settlement along the riverbank till now.
The history, culture, economy and splendor of Dhaka, from the days of tiny township up to the existing bustling Mega City, have greatly been influenced by the presence of
which served as the principal means of communication. Since the 7th century AD. like that of Venice. It was close to the Buriganga River.Buriganga. At the time of Ibrahim Khan. During the period of Ibrahim Khan Dhaka attained great commercial importance and became a trading center of the whole south Asia. the city’s size and fortune has seen many troughs and crests. Through the Buriganga and the Dhaleswari. experienced tremendous growth and prosperity. Sadarghat . In some we would land right in front of residential buildings intermixed with business structures and warehouses. The present is also a hum of life that envelops the surrounding today. to which the former is a loop. “not on their periphery but in their center”. the river. Buriganga. One characteristic of waterfront cities is that when we arrive by boat. and the Nile for Cairo. we enter them. Dhaka is connected by navigable waterways with the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Which was true for Dhaka at a time of its glorious past. Dhaka as the capital of mughal province of Bengal. This geographical location of Dhaka. when Dhaka was part of the Buddhist kingdom of Kamrup. It has been playing the role of the central arterial connection for the city of Dhaka as the Thames is for London. Standing on the northern bank of Buriganga afforded her a command over the water routes. the Mughal subadar to transfer his capital from Rajmahal in 1610. which was once deep and navigable by large boats gave Dhaka with it minarets and spacious buildings the appearance. This was rich in merchandise and colorful in appearance. Of a city rising from the surface of the water. But it has turned into a wholesale area of hustling and bustling. motivated Islam Khan. the Seine for Paris. Another dynamic area of Dhaka. the Chawk served as the central business district and was called the Badshahi bazaar.
The only means of transportation. But the charm of the riverfront continued up to the beginning of the present century and the most important high-class areas continued to be at the bank of the Buriganga. has now become a symbol of sharp physical and environmental deterioration. . Despite the government vow to stop encroachments. In 1947. Dhaka gradually lost its role as a trading center. Dhaka became the capital of East Pakistan. the river has virtually been reduced to a narrow canal of polluted slime. was a canal excavated by the first mughal governor of Dhaka. once flowed a number of canals.was once where the city begin and a vital reverine node. Now. at the time of partition. The deeper and wider course of the channel of the river created a defense barrier to the city and from this security perspective the Fort of Lalbagh was constructed on the northern bank of the Buriganga. It was retained for future planning of the city to convert this inland water basin for country boats flanked with revetments. These canals were the routes for communication within the city. The Dhulai Khal. Through the heart of the old town. At the tail end of the mughal rule and the inception of British power around 1765. was in the form of water transport establishing communication linkage with the rest of the country. We have turned our back to the river. which existed in the 17th century Dhaka. bridges etc. The most prized residential areas were at that time the riverside areas of Buriganga. this canal flows the filth and dirt of the city. on which the life of the city still depends. which at present has largely dried up. The present Buriganga offers no potential view or anything at all.
Dhanmondi and Ramna developed as high-class residential area. Postagola and Hazaribagh. It lacks an overall plan that could guide its development. The Buriganga is not just a romantic presence in people’s mind. Though the chaotic and anarchic activities along the river are resulting in the death of the river. But the very movement of the people toward the water also destroys the water. What Dhaka has become now. The majority of the dwellers have no direct contact with the river now. Or when water’s edge is preserved. At the same time. When natural bodies of water occurs near human settlements. all around us. But every where in our city water is gradually getting out of reach. and industries destroy the water edge and make it dirty or so treacherous that. it is still a major factor in the city’s economic and ecological well being.Business center moved to Motijheel and Area along the Buriganga became the area for wholesale trade. we must treat them with respect and should always preserve a belt of common land. In old Dhaka the land generally is now purchased not for residential purpose but for business and small industries. Tejgaon. We came from the water and water plays a fundamental role in our psychology. has now become a symbol of sharp physical and environmental deterioration. the vital riverine node. where the city once began. freeways. it falls into private hands or wrong hands. it is virtually inaccessible. After independence. . immediately beside the water. Roads. it can hardly be called a city. public realmthe places where collective activities can take place. We need constant access to water. it’s losing its civic places. industrial growth occurred in three areas. Buriganga. Motijheel continued to be the business center.
--on the water. to the extent that a river is a working watercourse. There is a definite conflict between those who make use of it for trade-related activities and those who would turn it into work of arts. When we save a river. Buriganga River can again become major lifeblood. must be kept back from it and only allowed near it when they lie at right angles to it. Along low-density development it may be a common parkland extending hundreds of yards beyond. And the city. But the land immediately along the water edge must be preserved for common use. economic. And the river front a much more organized in providing a renewed recreational civic. and we save ourselves as well because of our dependence--physical. Along high-density development. . the roads. It could be an important step towards making Dhaka a decent and livable place. it may be no more than a simple promenade. which can destroy the edges. Density of development along it and the ecological conditions. in general with thoughtful and imaginative planning these areas could be transformed into something befitting the riverfront of any civilized city. we also save a major part of an ecosystem. The issue of monumentalising waters edge is complicated by functional arguments. as it is entirely natural. economic and transport facilities for the residents of Dhaka. The both issues must treated with accordance to the need. To this end. spiritual. The width of the belt of land along the water may vary with the type of water.It should be understood that people would have a tendency to build near the water.
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