Rajshahi can be a modern metropolis, says Mayor
Mizanur Rahman Minu MP, who has been serving as the elected Mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) since 1991, talks with Anwar Ali of Over the institution's achievements and plans.
Nagar Bhaban, Rajshahi
"The Rajshahi region has always remained neglected, for its poor communication with the capital and poor infrastructures,” said Minu when asked to comment on the city's development. He continued that after the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge was commissioned, the situation changed. Foreign investments are coming regularly. “For better acceleration of the process, we have a plan to construct a 30-megawatt power plant for smooth supply of electricity solely to the city people and traders.” Project plans are already complete for constructing three international quality link roads inside the town for easy transportation. Apart from one Rajshahi-Dhaka train -- Silk City, two more trains will be introduced soon. “Above all, we are going to formulate a 50-year plan for the city's development replacing the 20-year plan.”
When asked about the ongoing move of natural gas supply through pipeline, the mayor expressed his belief that the future industrial development of Rajshahi has to rely mainly on the agricultural base for export from the region. "Our sincere efforts are aimed at bringing natural gas to the region by 2006 and the ultimate goal is to set up an agro-based Export Processing Zone (EPZ) within five years," he said. He informed that Kharkhari-Harian areas of the city have already been selected for establishing the Main Gas Centre of the region and areas around the centre will locate the EPZ.
On ecology and river erosion threats, he said, “We have ambitious plans to make the city along the river Padma fascinating. We undertook a town beautification work to be done in the next few years.” A Tk 150 crore hard dam will be erected along left bank of Padma to protect the entire city and on and around the dam, a tourist friendly zone will be created.
Talking about Information Technology, the mayor looked enthusiastic and said, “ECNEC has already passed plans to turn Rajshahi into an IT city. Internationally rated training centres and other facilities will be made available here.” Above all, RCC is now a step away to go for a full-fledged e-governance and computerised birth registration system. “Computerised immunisation has already been running at many stations. All the 30 ward commissioners' offices will be centrally connected with Nagar Bhaban (RCC building) to serve the people in better ways.”
"Water is abundant in the city, but there is a crisis of pure drinking water,” Minu commented. “We are lobbying for setting up of an agency to mitigate the crisis.” The current water supply coverage of 95 percent and pure drinking water supply of 40 percent will be raised to 100 percent in the next few years. Besides, arrangements are under way to use surface water of the Padma as pure drinking water.
On health issues, Minu said some of the basic health indicators seem to be comparatively better for the city as a whole than the national average. The NGOs, UN and other donor agencies assisted RCC in providing preventive and primary health care services. The services come in the form of immunisation campaigns, awareness campaigns, and provision of subsidised sanitation. The national immunisation campaigns are very vigorously pursued in the city.
About infrastructural development, he said twenty-three intersections of the city would be widened, fountains, statues and other works of art would be set up at different points to provide the town a great look. Three more amusement parks for children will be constructed in the next five years, said the mayor.
The mayor talked about his plans of creating several new playgrounds, swimming pools, development of the existing stadiums for all international games, and building a modern hotel for guests and foreign players.
“With its very rapid urban population growth and fast expansion and limitation of resources, the provisions of services in the city quite obviously remain extremely unsatisfactory and highly inadequate.” The growth of the city has taken place in a haphazard way like other cities in Bangladesh and it too suffers from effects of the rapidly widening gap between requirements for essential services and level of resources. The minimum basic needs of housing, safe water supply, sanitation, road communication, drainage and solid waste disposal are met for only a minority of the city-dwellers. Further-more, the country's economic situation is reflected in the scale and depth of urban poverty.