The nation's capital continues to be weighed down with a variety of issues, to a point where its environment now confronts a bleak future. It is the same old story all over again. The various regulatory bodies and service-oriented organisations have hardly fulfilled the expectations of the millions who happen to reside in Dhaka.

Be it the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (RAJUK) or any other organization expected to provide facilities to city dwellers --- and we speak of the two city corporations as well as DESA, WASA, DESCO and the like --- the quality of the services they have provided through the years has been deeply disappointing. Inefficiency coupled with sloth and, of course, charges of corruption have consistently undermined the purposes for which such bodies came up in the first place. The ramifications have regularly been felt by the population of the city.

Take the matter of how RAJUK has been performing or not performing to public satisfaction. The irregularities which have regularly marred its effective functioning have been legion over the years. The result is that bad planning or an inability on the part of the body to play its due role has rendered the nation's capital into a mass of bricks and cement and mortar and not much else. The aesthetic beauty which defines national capitals elsewhere around the globe is woefully missing in our own capital. The environment is one which causes a host of diseases; the roads are narrow and consistently congested and buildings have come up in ways that define logic as well as the imagination.

Of course, the building code on which RAJUK is expected to operate is an admirable piece of legislation. The question, though, relates to whether or not the code is made to work in practice. The answer is out there for everyone to see. Dhaka is now a disturbing cluster of buildings whose presence has pushed environmental priorities to near rock bottom. But such indifference and inefficiency cannot go on forever. A point comes when effective demonstrations of leadership must cause a turnaround. We believe we have reached that point. The services of urban planners --- and we have many of them but whose ideas are rarely taken into account --- must be sought, for they understand the exigencies of the situation. Besides, their comprehension of what modern cities are should be the benchmark on which future planning, or call it reinvention, related to the capital and indeed other cities around the country must be strategized.

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