Access to urban planning information is a basic right, Where is DAP? Where is DMDP?

on Monday 28 June 2010 - 19:32:43 | by admin
From last couple of weeks the ongoing hot-humid talk of the country was the DAP (Detailed Area Plan) of RAJUK. However, this writing is not a typical criticism of DAP, DMDP, Housing and Public Works Ministry or the recent Review Committee of DAP. Here we are trying to highlight some basic problems of the activities.

DAP is the final tire of the DMDP (Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan) 1995-2015. As far as I know, RAJUK website’s planning section is the only open source from where we may know about the in-&-out of DMDP. Understanding and observing the development of DMDP is a basic right of not just the architects and planners of the country but also of every conscious citizen.

The major problem, is the lack of open 'detailed' information of the DAP and the whole process. All the recent media coverage and publications on DAP only talk about the ongoing issues, problems, business of developers etc. However, where is the DAP? Where are the maps? Where does everyone get the Detailed Area Plan drawings to comment or talk about? Those who are writing about DAP in the media do they really have ever seen the proper DAP drawings themselves?

Well I can not comment or talk about something I have never seen properly. In RAJUK’s website there is no ‘proper’ copy of DAP, the drawing does not offer enough information to understand the plan totally. By the word ‘proper’ here I mean a map that gives detail information. Preferably it should be on any vector CAD format, be it GIS or AutoCAD or PDF. RAJUK’s website only provides an uncclear JPG copy of ‘integrated composite DAP Map’. And I could understand very little of that drawing. Here it is: rajukdhaka.gov.bd/dap/dap_map.htm and RAJUK has declared that "it is an offense to make and issue any copy or copies (soft & hard copy) of this map without written permission of the Chairman". Same goes with other DMDP Maps available, are in a low resolution jpg format and I am not authorized to download or copy!
We understand that DMDP is the decision that will directly affect our lives and economy of Dhaka. It is also somewhat like a prescription to a patient or a sentence from a court. But unfortunately we don’t have a readable copy of it and 'it is an offense to make a copy of it'. This is very unfortunate. These are the information which are more important than AIDS campaigns. Urban planning directly affects our health, mental well-being, economy and almost everything of life in a city. All information and drawings of DMDP should be 'Open-source' digitally published in usable format and free to copy and use.

I am not discussing the flaws of DAP, that is the problems of the detail planning here. That is a seperate issue. Before going to that point we need the information to be open. Yes 'legally open'.

Problem number two: Whatever we are getting from RAJUK's DMDP and DAP all are the answers of ‘What’. Where are the answers to ‘Why’? Publishing finalized drawings is not enough. It's not a furniture you are designing! Those are the decisions which will affect us and our next generations who will live in these areas. The drawings should come along with all the studies and researches done to take the decisions. We need to know what is what and why it is like that. Planning and urban-design is not just 'prescribing' or 'imposing' decisions. It should come along with explanations with relevant studies and references.
RAJUK may open a whole separate website to host all these information. As they always complain they don't have enough 'man power' I am sure even if they try to open and publish the data they will say this same stuff. No organization has enough man-power. That's why they 'hire' other professional organization to deal with. If RAJUK can not handle this alone they should take help from other organizations.
Urban planning and design are the kind of decisions and information which are as important as 'basic health information' for the people. And every citizen has the right to gain access to every information of DMDP, DAP and the right to copy and use those data.
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Mohammad Tauheed,
Architect

Edited by
Mehnaz Ahmed
Architect
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