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Dhanmondi


Dhanmondi a planned residential area of dhaka city. Though Dhaka was one of the capital cities of Bengal, it had lost its glory during the colonial period and was reduced over time to being merely a mofussil district town. Dhaka was once again made a capital, this time of East Pakistan, after the Partition of Bengal in 1947. The dictates of the new capital necessitated the establishment of offices and physical infrastructure. An autonomous authority, Dhaka Improvement Trust (DIT), was established in 1956 to turn Dhaka town into a planned metropolis. With this objective in view, a Master Plan was drawn in 1959.

A project to develop a residential area in Dhanmondi had been undertaken earlier in 1949. The Construction and Building Department of the government of East Pakistan acquired about 500 acres of agricultural and horticultural lands in 1950, levelled them, and allocated plots to people according to approved criteria. DIT later undertook the task of creating public facilities and building roads and other facilities. The area was divided into blocks, which were in turn sub-divided into individual plots measuring approximately a bigha (0.33 acres) each. The plots were allotted to ministers, government officials, public leaders, professionals, and businessmen. Grid pattern wide roads were built and vegetation was planted on roadside and other public places. The plots were leased out to allottees for 99 years at a payment of Tk 5,000 per bigha.

Initially, DIT (rajuk from 1987) kept Dhanmondi plots exclusively residential and did not allow use of any plot or house for commercial purposes. But in response to tremendous pressure on city land after 1972, the rule was relaxed to the point of virtual non-application. At present, nearly half the plots of Dhanmondi Residential Area are used for non-residential purposes, which include shops and stores, government and semi-government offices, show rooms and warehouses of business firms, NGO offices and clinics, educational institutions and even manufacturing units. Consequently, the social character of the area has changed very drastically. Socially and economically, Dhanmondi has now become a multi-purpose area. Socially, the non-residential elements of Dhanmondi are now much larger and much more influential than the owner-occupiers and resident tenants. Thus the original plan of keeping Dhanmondi a purely residential area has now given way to free play of market forces. House rent is very high in the area. Land price is almost as high as the owner can ask for.

Most original owners of Dhanmondi plots have now been substituted by second or third generations of successors. Many of them now live elsewhere, including outside the country. Their land is being used by tenants or the new owners, who have purchased it. Nevertheless, Dhanmondi still ranks very high as a residential area. The house of bangabandhu sheikh mujibur rahman in Road No. 32 adds lustre to the area. Bangabandhu and his family members were killed in the house on the night of 15 August 1975. It has now been turned into a museum (Bangabandhu Jadughar). The lake in front of the house has been rescued from squatters and re-excavated. Vegetated walkways for strollers have been laid alongside the lake. The lake and the pleasing waterfront embellished with green esplanade and a square in front of the Museum are now among the attractions of Dhanmondi. [Sirajul Islam]