Letter to the 9 Million People of Dhaka City,
As we all know, frequent flooding is very common in country like Bangladesh, which has Bay of Bengal Sea in the south and in north, the trans-boundary Rivers flowing through the whole country whose sources are glacier. In a way, informally and formally the people of we, people of Bangladesh are confronting flood effected areas seasonally. If around 2050 global warming effected the whole world and the sea-level rises and glacier starts to melt, there is bad news for us.
Bangladesh has 700 rivers flows constituting a waterway of total length around 24,140 kilometers (15,000 mi) within it. We can assume that, most part of the country will be under water around the year, especially in rainy season. As in for Dhaka (capital of Bangladesh), over-populated and being oblivious to the consequences of squandering away our resources for urbanization, what will happen to the city under water which apparently is heading towards a point of saturation?
Regarding a changing land which will likely to be under water continuously though seemingly looks like a dystopia, however, time and again we, Bengalis (people of Bangladesh) have been capable of coming around from the verge of impuissant and desperation only to survive. Therefore, it is only after this point has been reached that people, endowed with true awareness, will come together bringing about an influx of positive change. This is my sincere hope. As embracing the water, rather than confronting it, we will emerge as a resilient society. With the vision of it, let‘s build ‘Metaquatopia‘ a city living with water designed for swimming, floating, fleeing, sinking and a story about how to absorb millions of climatic refugees. Let us imagine our Dhaka city and it‘s urban area are divided into submerged, floating, free, unsinkable and ground-rooted zone after flooding. What will happen in those zone? Let me explain -
Submerged zone are the old city which is submerged in unclean water, mainly the ground floor of the buildings will be under water. But the ground floor crisis with water can be converted to clean water, swimming pool, water tank or the parking of boat. Conversion of unclean water to clean water can be done by plugged-in titan-size water-filter which also work as rain-water collector and we can make it in home as we make our toilet by ourselves in village. This is a proposed retrofitting of the old building. The roof and veranda gardening which we are doing presently can be compulsory by laws to work as sponge zone for further rain-water. And for transportation, people will have the over-head metro (which yet to complete in 2021), personalized human-driven and solar-electricity driven boat. Rather than Rickshaw-puller, there will be more Boat-man in this future And they will also have ferry as public transportation like Sadarghat water terminal of Dhaka city. Floating zone is a very new idea inspired from our national flower of Bangladesh; Water Lily. We all know water lily has leaf which is float-able and also can bear weight into certain level. Inspired from this, there will be different type of ‘Lily Pad’ in urban scale which will be used for different purposes. The floating Lily Pad will be used for floating agriculture land, floating public area like market, playground for kids, park, sports courts and as well as solar powered residential area. A group of people can own a lily pad with keeping the best interest of city. The floating mechanism of these Lily Pad will use ‘plastic waste’ as reusable materials. See the plastic we waste, now we can make it reusable.
Floating zone is a very new idea inspired from our national flower of Bangladesh; Water Lily. We all know water lily has leaf which is floatable and also can bear weight into certain level. Inspired from this, there will be different type of ‘Lily Pad’ in urban scale which will be used for different purposes. The floating Lily Pad will be used for floating agriculture land, floating public area like market, playground for kids, park, sports courts and as well as solar powered residential area. A group of people can own a lily pad with keeping the best interest of city. The floating mechanism of these Lily Pad will use ‘plastic waste’ as reusable materials. See the plastic we waste, now we can make it reusable.
Free zone is like hawker‘s area. Unlike any other city, we have a very big aspect of informal urbanism. Free zone is not confined in a particular area. They are mostly private-owned boat. As boats are very integral part of riverine country Bangladesh, these boats renders different purposes, they can be shops which sell fish, vegetables, or can be a school or health care center. Also there can be literally floating slum of poor people. Or it can be a tea-stall, our favorite place, driving through populated area where you can sit, take a break and drink tea.
Unsinkable zone is the zone which is still not in the water and protected heavily by water-wall and dam with all the government head offices and embassy office in there. Land is not for sell in here. And private-owned company is not allowed to buy any land or rent there unless it is subsidized by Government and can only rent in yearly renewal basis. More than 50% of this dry land is covered with trees and vegetation and has public walkways and cycle-ways.
Ground-rooted zone is another new zone which seemingly looks submerged in water but the constructions are built that way. They are the production plant which produce like hydro-energy, blue-energy and also waste recycling plant. They can substitute our mineral energy. These plant are not only for energy production but also a hub public places are attached with them. Water park, floating walk ways are connected to use the structure frugally as we always have space constraints.
With regard to political, technical and social crises, the consequences of climate change, energy transition and the drifting apart of urban societies, I hope that Dhaka city will show to be resilient, adaptable and flexible. By creating its own flow of energy and food as well as developing unique public transport and it will become more independent and thereby resilient to climatic events. But we all have to work together to achieve it. If we become more conscious and explore these base ideas, Dhaka, 31 years from now, shall be in the epicenter of such regeneration and armed with its own uniqueness will pull through stronger than ever before. Let‘s build the future rather than become refugee of it.
From one of 9 Million people of Dhaka City.