URBANIZATION IN BANGLADESH
Today Bangladesh is experiencing a rapid pace of urbanization. Although the level of urbanization is low (23.1%) the country already has got a huge urban population which is more than 28 million (Census, 2001). However after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, urbanization and urban planning got little priority in the national policies and strategies of the country. Even at present, there is no proper policy guideline or regulations through which urbanization can be tackled. As a result, unplanned and haphazard growth is the common feature in most urban areas of the country and this situation is much more severe in metropolitan cities particularly in Dhaka. Such a situation resulted mainly due to inadequate attention given to urban planning and development. Being predominantly an agrarian country, rural and agricultural development in Bangladesh received priority in public allocations and management attention in the past. However, in the current situation it has been recognized that in spite of a declared national policy in favour of rural and agricultural development, ultimately much of the investments might well have flowed back to urban areas (Islam, 1990). The positive association of urbanization with industrialization and economic growth is well known in today’s world. Actually urbanization is an index or determinant of economic growth of the country. There has been a phenomenal increase in the level of urbanization and urban growth in Bangladesh for the last three decades. In 1974, the urban population was only 8.78% of the total population while this percentage increased to 23.1% in 2001 and it is estimated that 38.2% of the total population will live in urban areas in 2020 (Rouf, 1999).
Thus it would not be so easy for the policy makers and concerned authorities to handle such rapid pace of urbanization in the context of population and economic growth and physical development. Past experience shows unplanned, unregulated and haphazard urban development resulting in low living standards of urban dwellers which is mainly due to lack of proper planning and farsightedness of concerned authorities. In this situation, the urban areas of the country need to be shaped as economically vibrant, self reliant, livable, peaceful and environment friendly. In this respect the main challenges of the urban authorities should be to ensure planned and regulated urbanization and efficient management of urban areas by practicing effective urban planning policies and guidelines. In the following paragraphs an attempt has been made to provide a general discussion on urbanization along with the factors affecting the urbanization in developing country like Bangladesh. The positive impacts as well as the problems and other adverse effects that arise from the process of urbanization have also been discussed here with possible mitigation measures.
1.2Definition of Urbanization
In brief, urbanization refers to increase of percentage of urban population with respect to total population. Basically, urbanization is a cause and effect in socio-economic development accompanied by the demographic and cultural changes that is an increasing function of urban population growth and increasing involvement of people in secondary and tertiary production activities. Urbanization is an unavoidable feature in the process of development and it occurs due to urban population growth of a city and town, which results from the net impact of natural increase or decrease and the net migration resulting from the balance between the total movements in and out of the urban areas. Urbanization is not a discrete local process but it is a part of large societal coalescence and has both positive and negative implications on some aspects of national economy directly and indirectly. In case of developing countries, rural-urban migration is the dominating factor to the growth of urban centers which...