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High rise vice!

Who says Dhaka is not rising? How could we have any doubt of the process of city development when thousands of concrete structures are growing in the name of decent accommodation, covering every inch of the city like an epidemic on the loose?
It has literally swallowed almost every open space in the city and wetlands while single-handedly raping the very beauty of the city's landscape.
Helplessly, city dwellers are witnessing all the nuisances that have been taking place in the name of the construction of "necessary" infrastructure, falling prey to these developments that virtually deny the basic civic amenities while molesting the authentic spirit of the capital's urban environment. No matter which area you visit, it won't take long to notice the newly established or on-going construction of some high-rise structure that stands like a monster, ready to claim it's toll on what we call the decency of city life.
Nobody can deny the need for a home that provides a sense of belonging, security, peace and comfort. Had the development of these high-rises been systematic, planned and law-abiding then there would not have been any debate, but the way that these infrastructures are now growing is certainly not praise-worthy. Resembling the characteristics of "vertical slums" these anti-civic constructions have been taking place for quite a long time under the very nose of the authorities. Approving the construction of buildings with doctored designs, meticulously abiding by all the building construction rules, ignoring the demand of basic civil amenities, violating RAJUK rules and disregarding the issues of urban environment, these constructions of "urban silos" have simply created a menace to the city's environment.

What is really frustrating is to see the direct involvement of some governmental institutions in this mockery of housing development. On the one hand the unrestrained activities and indiscriminate muscling in hope of some profit-making real-estate agencies, while on the other the infamous corruption of government institutions like RAJUK have deteriorated the overall situation and polluted the sound atmosphere that once upon a time existed in this capital.
It's not that there is any lack of laws or regulations that could guide the construction of these infrastructures. The laws are enacted are sufficient to control such situations. But the truth is, there is hardly any enforcement of what the constitution says. The developers neither properly comply with these rules, nor are the authorities responsible enough to monitor the actual situation. The crookedness of some authorities is so pervasive that if a developer wants to develop a 20 storied building at a location marked for 6 storied buildings, an approval is managed with the use of money, muscle power or both. The severity of this situation does not stop here. On May 2003 two women died in separate high-rise building construction sites as developers, violating the National Building Code guidelines, were reluctant to maintain safety requirements at the construction sites. Some real-estate developers and their agents are so desperate that they continuously threaten landowners who refuse to comply with their unlawful acts.
Leaving the tales of corruption and physical impact, the social stresses that are being caused by these new high rise structures are largely affecting the capital's social structure and the mentality of its inhabitants.
It is easily understood that new infrastructure leads to the demand of electricity, water, gas and other basic amenities. As a result the demand for these facilities is constantly increasing while the supply level is gradually shrinking. No wonder that the capital has so much load shedding, water and gas shortage, and breakdown of garbage and sewerage systems. Many localities are losing their originality as well as people are losing their privacy, giving rise to a certain kind of social tension among the citizens.
With its lost beauty and chaotic landscape, Dhaka City has been deliberately pushed towards catastrophic danger. It is tragic that the law-abiding, peace loving, civilised and decent people of this city have turned into the victims of this haphazard growth of structures and unplanned development while the "social miscreants" of this situation are always at large.

By Obaidur Rahman


Cars give life to a man

It is implied in certain cultures that cars act as "girlfriends" when a man loses his freedom after marriage because, henpecked as he is, cars offer that close companionship that becomes more and more rare as household duties come in the way of a husband and wife.
The wife starts to consider the car a competitor, as the man, happy that the car looks beautiful, listens to its command when the ignition button is turned on and speaks the same language of fun and unbounded freedom, and starts to give more time to his car. We saw a funny adaptation of this, as the story line in the sitcom, Home Improvement where the leading man uses his passion for cars as the perfect foil for the various pulls and pressures of life.
Cars are second nature for western men where that expensive habit can become a part of a man's escape routine from the ups and downs of adolescent life, the drudgery of work or home routine or just life itself. Buying a "Hot Rod" or an engine and building a full car from scratch is well known in the west. For those who cannot make time, you have the Indy Car racing, demolition derbies where cars crash into each other till they cannot run anymore!
You also have "daredevils" who use cars to catapult themselves right through the air and jump over large distances to create records! The successful/rich use their cars to project an image of wealth and upper class exclusivity. This goes a long way to attracting the ladies also.
In Europe, the significance of the car is a little less from the social point of view. You have the Formula One races that are used to project the power of the engine and these races act as advertisements for the various engine makers. Various cars like the Rolls Royce, BMW, Jaguars are sublime in their style and make, and project the Old World grace and aristocracy that Europe has as its tradition, the same tradition that keeps the different monarchies still in place!
European racing and sports cars are also brand names that have more than just speed attached to them. You have the Ferrari, which combines feline grace, feminine charms, the speed and pace of a cheetah and comes across as the car of the ultimate aristocrat. Lamborghini, Porsche are some of the other brands that have the same quality but in varied ways that do not quite match the Ferrari.
In Bangladesh, cars have started to become a middle-class commonality signifying that there is a middle class worth mentioning. The blue-collar professional, the salaried man as well someone who has the length of service as a professional can easily buy a car these days. The ubiquitous use of the taxi has also made the car a day-to-day vehicle for many who need to reach a destination quickly.
In fact, having a car is no longer a big deal for the middle class of Bangladesh. However, cars of expensive taste and brand as tools of pleasure and prestige are still the preserve of a handful of rich families. Yet you would see virtually all major carmakers of the family sedan (luxury and non luxury) category represented in the road. However, cars as a hobby that consumes one are still very rare in Bangladesh and that is normal in a poor and conservative country.
Cars are an essential thing for everyone. But the man to whom a car somehow projects the same charm and allure that a woman does, is a little misguided! Cars can't and shouldn't compete with women for a position in a man's life! So beware cars are only machines, do not let them steal your home!


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