Environmental Economics

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Social Impact Assesment of Hatirjheel Begunbari Canal Project

.Origin of the Task

This report is the outcome of a research work to fulfill the Course requirement. As stated by the honorable course instructor Niaz Ahmed Khan, I am assigned to prepare a Social Impact Assessment Report on “Hatirjheel-Begunbari Canal Project” under the Project Management course.

.Background

Economic development projects brought innumerable benefits but also had unintended detrimental effects on people and natural resources. Human activities have resulted in the disruption of social and communal harmony. Social impacts are the impacts of developmental interventions on human environment. Such impacts not only need to be identified and measured but also need to be managed in such a way that the positive externalities are maximized and the negative externalities are minimized. Social impact assessments help in understanding such impacts.

Hatirjheel Lake, the case study of this paper, Hatirjheel Lake is the reservoir of one third of the catchment area of the city (MacDonald and Culpin, 1995). It is located in the center of Dhaka and is a crucial element in the city’s drainage system. It used to be connected to a string of other lakes, the Banani, Dhanmondi and Gulshan Lakes, and to the BegunbariKhal at the Rampura Bridge. Today, the natural system has been interrupted, causing ever-larger problems of flooding and water logging. The pressures on the water system are manifold and create a number of challenges for the immediate future.

3.Baseline Condition

Hatirjheel Lake was situated near the Tejgaon industrial area and the residential neighborhood of Nayatola. The British planned Tejgaon as an industrial area outside the city, but as the city has expanded, it now lies in the center of an urbanized area.

The physical environment of the lake itself is quite poor since squatters have illegally appropriated it and there are no municipal services. Over the past decade, Hatirjheel Lake has been a typical example of encroachment due to Dhaka’s population growth. A large part of Hatirjheel’s Lake edge is covered with bamboo houses on stilts, and a larger percentage of it with more permanent illegal structures. The houses are with their foundations in the water during the rainy season. Most of them stand only 2 to 6 meters above sea level. It is obvious that the poor have to live in the low-lying area because the land is cheaper and more available because of its risk-prone character.

In Hatirjheel, The lake is polluted with solid waste and overgrown with hyacinths. Domestic waste, as well as polluted industrial water from the factories next to Hatirjheel, and both the storm and wastewater from neighborhoods further away empty into the lake since it is topographically a low area in the surroundings.

The research led to a design proposal for the south-eastern side of Hatirjheel. The construction of two 7.5 meters-wide roads, one for through- traffic, the other for local traffic, had begun construction. In this area, three low- to middle-class residential areas—Mogh Bazaar, Nayatola and Madhubag—have informally grown into a very densely packed neighborhood, accessed by a labyrinth-like series of narrow roads with only a few small open spaces. An estimated 130,000 people per km2 are projected to inhabit the area by the end of 2011 (based on RAJUK 2008). The area is enclosed in the east by the DIT Road and in the south by the railway and the only possible area of expansion is towards the northwest and into the low-lying retention area.

The new 60-foot roads along the perimeter of the Hatirjheel Lake, as planned by the government for better accessibility to the east and with better connection to the lands eventually opened up the Eastern Embankment, has led to the clearing of slums along the edges of the lake. Since the start of the construction works in the summer of 2009, all slums within the perimeter of the new roads have...
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