Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is carrying a vision to develop the Costal Belt of Bangladesh like Singapore or Hong Kong city. To execute it, her government has taken-up a mega plan to materialize this set of dreams. In the first phase, a massive city developing master plan is taking place in Bangladesh’s south-eastern district Cox’s Bazar. Target is to turning it into a hub for tourism, trade and connectivity, better coupling the South Asian region to the Southeast Asian nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines. The masterplan is also consistent with national development objectives and the vision to convert Cox’s Bazar into an international hub. It demonstrates a commitment to sustainable practices, balanced growth, and enhanced quality of life for residents. The masterplan safeguards the district’s identity and potential while setting an inspiring example for planned urban and rural development in South Asia and beyond.
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In relations to this mega dream, the masterplan project of Cox’s Bazar is an ambitious effort to create a comprehensive master plan that will guide the district’s holistic development in a sustainable manner. Cox’s Bazar, located along the pristine eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal, is renowned for its continuous sandy sea beach, making it the world’s longest natural sea beach. This initiative acknowledges the enormous potential of this region and seeks to capitalize on its natural beauty, resources, and strategic location while addressing pressing development issues.
With an emphasis on responsible development, the master plan seeks to maximize land utilization, improve infrastructure, and boost tourism while preserving the area’s natural attractiveness and ecological diversity. The plan aims to create a resilient environment that can withstand the effects of climate change and natural disasters by resolving the specific challenges of coastal regions. The masterplan envisions transforming Cox’s Bazar into a model of balanced development, where economic prosperity, environmental preservation, and resident well-being coexist in harmony. This endeavor demonstrates a dedication to preserving the district’s history while embracing modern progress, making Cox’s Bazar an international model for sustainable development.
WHY COX’S BAZAR?
Developing a comprehensive masterplan for Cox’s Bazar is crucial for numerous compelling reasons. Cox’s Bazar possesses a combination of natural attractiveness, cultural heritage, and economic potential that is unparalleled. As the location of the world’s longest natural sea shoreline and a variety of ecosystems, responsible development is essential to preserving these resources for future generations.
Cox’s Bazar has experienced accelerated urbanization and population growth in recent years, which, if unchecked, could lead to haphazard development, insufficient infrastructure, and environmental degradation. A masterplan that is well-designed provides a framework for efficiently managing this development, ensuring that urban and rural areas develop in harmony while preserving the district’s aesthetic appeal.
Cox’s Bazar has become a prominent tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the globe. The masterplan’s emphasis on tourism development seeks to create an industry that is attractive, well-managed, and sustainable. This not only improves the visitor experience, but also generates economic opportunities for local communities, thereby contributing to the prosperity of the region.
Moreover, as a coastal region, Cox’s Bazar is susceptible to climate change and natural disasters. Incorporating disaster-resilient infrastructure, sustainable drainage systems, and climate adaptation strategies into the master plan is crucial. This ensures the protection of residents, visitors, and vital ecosystems.
UNDERSTANDING COX’S BAZAR AND ITS MASTERPLAN COMPONENTS
In 1984, Cox’s Bazar went from a subdivision of Chattogram district to a separate district. Cox’s Bazar is bounded to the north by the Chattogram district, to the east by the Bandarban district and Myanmar, and to the south and west by the Bay of Bengal. The district spans between 20º43′ and 21º56′ north latitudes and 91º50′ and 92º23′ east longitudes. Rice mills, fish processing industries, and prawn aquaculture contribute significantly to the economy, which is predominately agricultural. The district’s forests, agricultural diversity, and marine resources have provided the basis for its economic sustainability.
The master plan will include several essential components, such as a Strategic Policy Plan, Tourism Development Plan, Land Use Plan, and Sectoral Plans (Transportation, Disaster Management, Utility Infrastructure, and Socioeconomic Infrastructure). Collectively, these strategies will establish the course for Cox’s Bazar’s development in accordance with the national vision and international standards.
In accordance with the vision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, this project seeks to transform Cox’s Bazar into a South Asian international hub. The initiative aims to transform Cox’s Bazar into a model of planned urban and rural growth by establishing a balanced and sustainable development plan, thereby fostering economic prosperity, preserving natural resources, and enhancing the overall quality of life for its residents and visitors.
Harmonizing human and natural elements and implementing a strategic planning approach are the two interconnected aspects of the project’s methodology. Understanding the district’s context, demographics, economic activities, and environmental sensitivity is required for the first step. The latter entails a comprehensive procedure for project coordination, communication, and regular stakeholder checks. This approach ensures that the master plan is not only well-structured, but also takes into account the complex interaction between human activities and the environment.
UNIQUENESS OF THE MASTERPLAN
Within the landscape of masterplan plans in Bangladesh, the Cox’s Bazar masterplan stands out as a grand and transformative initiative. While the country has implemented a number of comprehensive plans to resolve its unique challenges and promote sustainable development, the Cox’s Bazar project has a scope and significance that are exceptional.
The plan envisions the transformation of Cox’s Bazar into a global tourism destination and a bustling trade hub, with projects spanning from a new international airport and deep-sea port to a coastal protection system and a marine drive.
Comparatively, other masterplans, such as the Integrated Energy and Power Master Plan Project and the Haor and Wetland Development Master Plan, are important in and of themselves. The energy masterplan seeks to restructure Bangladesh’s energy and power sector, whereas the haor development plan focuses on optimizing resources in floodplain areas to improve livelihoods and mitigate environmental challenges. While the precise scope and cost of these plans may differ, they all contribute to the nation’s holistic development.
Nonetheless, the Cox’s Bazar masterplan encompasses tourism, commerce, infrastructure, and disaster resilience, making it one of the country’s largest and most ambitious projects. Potential job creation and annual revenue projections emphasize the plan’s substantial economic impact. The Cox’s Bazar masterplan exemplifies Bangladesh’s commitment to realizing its maximum growth and prosperity potential, making it a true gamechanger in the realm of sustainable growth.
ELEMENTS INCLUDED IN THE COX’S BAZAAR MASTERPLAN
The master plan will encompass several key components, including a Strategic Policy Plan, Tourism Development Plan, Land Use Plan, and Sectoral Plans (Transportation, Disaster Management, Utility Infrastructure, Socio-economic Infrastructure). These plans will collectively define the direction for Cox’s Bazar’s development in alignment with the national vision and international standards.
By creating a well-balanced and sustainable developmental roadmap, the project intends to transform Cox’s Bazar into a model of planned urban and rural growth, fostering economic prosperity, preserving natural assets, and enhancing the overall quality of life for its residents and visitors.
The purpose of the Strategic Policy (SP) consisting a 50-year time period is to establish a long-term strategy for the development of Cox’s Bazar and its surrounds in the context of the area, coupled with the development of tourism circuits. The plan will outline sectoral policy suggestions in addition to indicating the scale and course of future development.
DETAILED AREA PLAN:
The overarching masterplan for Cox’s Bazar includes the Detailed Area Plan (DAP), which is an essential component of the plan with a timeframe of 20 years. It ensures that the more general goals of development be turned into workable strategies at a finer scale by providing a framework that is both all-encompassing and specifically tailored to individual sections of the district where development is to take place. Within the city of Cox’s Bazar, the DAP would designate particular zones and specify the kinds of land uses that are suitable for each zone. This will eliminate the possibility of random construction and guarantee that separate areas are set aside for residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, and conservation reasons respectively.
Taking into consideration the significance of Cox’s Bazar as a significant tourist destination, the Tourism Development Plan is an essential component of the masterplan for the city. This plan describes methods and actions to strengthen the contribution that the tourism sector already makes to the local economy, while also ensuring that natural and cultural assets are preserved in the process. Comprehensive research of the tourism sector, identifying significant source markets and traveler preferences, would be the first step in the implementation of this plan. This information helps to adjust the development strategies to target various traveler segments in order to improve their effectiveness. The plan would pinpoint places that need further infrastructure development in order to improve the visitor experience. The proposal could place an emphasis on the development of alternate attractions as a means of relieving the strain placed on the primary beach area.
Sectoral plan constitutes a pivotal aspect of comprehensive urban development strategies, focusing on the organized and efficient growth of specific areas, which serves as a blueprint, outlining guidelines that facilitate the systematic advancement of a designated region. It encompasses of the following plans
A. TRANSPORTATION PLAN: The Cox’s Bazar Transportation Plan is an essential part of the overall masterplan for the city, with the overarching goal of enhancing the district’s existing transportation networks in terms of their connectivity, accessibility, and overall efficiency. The transportation plan will give future policies, goals, investments, and designs in order to prepare for future needs to transfer people and products to their respective destinations. The plan would conduct an analysis of the current road infrastructure and make recommendations for improvements. The creation of a public transit network that is both effective and environmentally friendly would be the primary focus of the strategy.
Cox’s Bazaar Master Plan is one of the biggest masterplan projects in the country. How do you see its significance for our nation-building?
Given the depleting resources of land, increase in population, upcoming challenges of Climate Change, and fleeting future opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Cox’s Bazaar Master Plan is of utmost importance for ensuring the sustainable development of cities all around the world. In the case of Cox’s Bazaar, this is a reality to put focus on its modern growth because we have finite land-based resources, and that too is depleting day-by-day due to demographic explosion. The mission to explore the potentials of Tourism and a Blue Economy and, the decision to formulate a Master Plan for Cox’s Bazar is a hallmark in our quest to transform Cox’s Bazar as an iconic smart city of Bangladesh. This will contribute to the socio-economic development on the way to meet the challenge of climate change and industrial revolution.
While many see the masterplan’s objective is to just revamping the tourism sector of Cox’s Bazaar, we know that the plan will entail a holistic approach. Could you please elaborate a little, on how the masterplan will reshape Cox’s Bazaar?
The plan for the Promotion of Tourism is the aspect of the Master Plan, but our Master Plan will be a seamless and holistic plan encompassing all the areas that need our attention to ensure the sustainable development of Cox’s Bazar. The hallmarks of our endeavor to formulate a unique and useful Master Plan will focus on planned urbanization, promotion of tourism, exploiting the potentials of maritime area adjacent to Cox’s Bazar, building climate reliance, addressing the challenges of socio-economic fallouts of the Rohingya Crisis, ensuring state of the art connectivity and enhancing the civic facilities in terms of STP, Water Treatment plan, Solid Waste Management and Creating options of renewable energy.
A major challenge for any planning is stakeholder engagement and managing their expectations. What will be the approach here?
Ans: Primacy of stakeholders’ hopes and aspirations and their viewed priorities in terms of overcoming the challenges of their localities and areas will be the main beauty of our Master Plan. Instead of replicating the high-sounding ideas of the developed world, our approach will be to focus on the idiosyncrasies of our Cox’s Bazar. So that besides applications of common and best practices in this field, we do also address the area-specific challenges and priorities.
How will the master plan address the environmental issues including climate change?
The pan-ultimate aim of our Master Plan is to ensure sustainable development of our Cox’s Bazar area. As we know no development is without cost in terms of impact on environment and climate, as such while formulating the Master Plan we will keep no stone unturned to keep a keen eye on the issues of environment and climate change. The development paradigm of Cox’s Bazar should not be like the cities of the mainland, like Dhaka, Rajshahi, or like Haor area of Sylhet, or for that matter like the hilly terrain of Chittagong Hill Tracts, rather like all other coastal areas of the world, we need to go for “Integrated coastal Zone Management Concept”, which will yield a Master Plan that will be a seamless and holistic document in addressing the idiosyncrasies of a coastal area.
B.DRAINAGE AND SANITATION PLAN: The Drainage and Sanitation Management Plan is an essential component of the masterplan for Cox’s Bazar. Its purpose is to provide effective elimination of waste, efficient drainage systems, and sanitation facilities in order to improve the general quality of life and the sustainability of the environment. The plan would lay out strategies for organized trash collection, concentrate the provision of suitable sanitation facilities, address wastewater disposal through proper sewage systems, and prioritize the establishment of effective stormwater drainage systems. The installation of a central sewage treatment plant (STP) in Cox’s Bazar emerges as a pivotal initiative. CoxDA chairman, Commodore (retd) Muhammed Nurul Absar, warns that without the central STP, the sea’s vitality could be compromised by the influx of untreated sewage, transforming the Bay of Bengal into an ecological wasteland. “Once the projects are completed, they can immensely contribute to achieving the targets of sustainable development goals,” he said.
C. DISASTER MANAGEMENT PLAN: Because of Cox’s Bazar’s susceptibility to natural catastrophes including typhoons, floods, and tsunamis, the Disaster Management Plan is an essential component of the masterplan for the area. The protection of people’s lives, their property, and their infrastructure is the primary objective of this plan, which seeks to improve disaster planning, response, and recovery. The first step of the plan would be to conduct an exhaustive risk assessment of the numerous natural and man-made dangers to which the district is vulnerable. The idea would put into place reliable early warning systems that would deliver up-to-date information regarding approaching natural disasters. In addition to the establishment of Evacuation Routes and Shelters, raising Community Awareness, Providing Training, and setting Standards, the plan will incorporate comprehensive policies regarding disaster management.
Could you elaborate on the significance of the Cox’s Bazar Masterplan?
The Cox’s Bazar Masterplan incorporates multiple dimensions, with an emphasis on socioeconomic and economic development. It has the potential to become a regional hub and contribute to the concept of the gathering momentum blue economy. The development plan for the Cox’s Bazar district is expected to make a significant contribution to the economic growth of Bangladesh, which will be enhanced by this initiative.
Given Bangladesh’s extensive oceanic resources and Exclusive Economic Zones, such as Mohisopan, which provide access to international waters and neighboring nations such as India and Myanmar, a strategic emphasis on the blue economy is crucial. Utilizing the potential of the blue economy necessitates a solid foundation of land-based infrastructure that permits the integration and extraction of marine resources such as fish and aquaculture.
How will the implementation proceed?
The implementation process is strengthened by the expertise of SASAKI, a prominent consulting firm, as well as renowned national experts, qualified urban planners, and architects. For surveys, international experts will also be recruited. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and high-resolution aerial photography will play a crucial role in the collection of data. Cox’s Bazar’s design and development plan will also incorporate Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, which analyzes and displays geographically referenced information.
What does the future hold for the Masterplan?
While the vision spans a century, the Masterplan covers a period of approximately 10 to 15 years, with potential revisions based on changing environmental dynamics and development strategies. Typically, masterplans extend between 10 and 20 years, with a primary focus on the first decade and room for modifications and extensions up to two decades. For Cox’s Bazar, this extended timeframe has been meticulously crafted to assure nationwide strategic economic contributions.
It is essential to recognize that Cox’s Bazar’s holistic development is interconnected with the national landscape as a whole. As isolated development is insufficient to achieve the desired outcomes, a comprehensive network and connectivity across various regions and tourist attractions are crucial. Harmonizing this integrated strategy would necessitate economic integration across sectors and the development of additional tourism destinations.
Where do you envision the transformation of Cox’s Bazar?
Answer: Cox’s Bazar’s one of the key goals is to become a thriving regional hub, a transformation that aligns with our vision of Bangladesh as a developed nation by 2041. The gradual implementation of masterplans for other districts and regions is essential to achieving this overarching vision of a modern Bangladesh characterized by sustainable growth, improved connectivity, and economic prosperity. This comprehensive strategy envisions Cox’s Bazar as a hub of economic vitality, nurturing cross-sectoral integration and enhancing the country’s global standing. It serves as evidence of Bangladesh’s dedication to strategic development and ensures a balance between progress and preservation.
D. HOUSING STRATEGY: The Cox’s Bazar masterplan prioritizes on the basic requirement for affordable housing as part of its commitment to holistic and inclusive development. Because of how crucial safe and inexpensive housing is to thriving communities and long-term development, the Affordable Housing Strategy is a key part of the overall plan. This plan will completely transform the district’s housing market, making it possible for people of all. The strategy aims to improve people in Cox’s Bazar’s social cohesiveness, economic opportunities, and quality of life via the use of novel methods, regulatory policies, and coordinated community initiatives.
HOW WILL THE MASTERPLAN TRANSFORM COX’S BAZAR?
The Masterplan for Cox’s Bazar reveals its profound implications as evidence of precise foresight and strategic vision. This visionary endeavor transcends conventional boundaries and will have a profound impact on numerous facets of economic, environmental, and social progress. Cox’s Bazar is poised to emerge as a model of sustainable development, resiliency, and affluence as the intricate threads of this masterplan intertwine. The impacts include-
1. SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: The masterplan would lay the groundwork for sustainable development, striking a balance between growth in the economy and safeguarding the environment. This would entail locating mangroves, coral reefs, and wildlife habitats in Cox’s Bazar, as well as implementing strategies to conserve them. The biodiversity of these regions will be protected and protected practices would be encouraged as part of any development plans. This would guarantee that Cox’s Bazar’s beautiful ecosystems and sandy shores remain untouched for generations to come.
2. ECONOMIC GROWTH AND BLUE ECONOMY: Cox’s Bazar has the potential to grow economically and broaden its economy beyond the tourism industry with a well-planned development strategy. The district’s overall resilience would increase if it diversified its economy away from its reliance on the tourism industry by recognizing and fostering other industries like agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and technology and preparing a roadmap to tap potential of the blue economy.
Cox’s Bazar is a coastal area in Bangladesh that offers a blue economy, which is the term used to describe the economic activities that depend on the oceans and other marine resources. The blue economy in Cox’s Bazar includes sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, shipping, renewable energy, biotechnology, and coastal development. The blue economy has a significant impact on the Bangladesh economy, as it contributes to the livelihoods, food security, trade, and innovation of millions of people. The blue economy also has the potential to support sustainable development and environmental protection, as it can offer solutions for low-carbon and resource-efficient growth, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and social inclusion.
3. IMPACT ON EMPLOYMENT: Numerous new positions would be created as a result of the plan’s implementation throughout the many initiatives and industries (including tourism, infrastructure, and agriculture) stated in it. The local economy would be boosted and unemployment rates would go down if this happens. New hotels, resorts, restaurants, and recreational facilities may be built as a direct result of the masterplan’s inclusion of a strategy to promote tourism. The hospitality industry, including cooks, waiters, and housekeepers, as well as the tourism and hospitality industries, would benefit from this. Souvenir stores, local crafts, cultural performances, and transportation services are just some of the auxiliary industries that would benefit from an increase in tourism. The masterplan’s encouragement of startups and small businesses has the potential to bring about new opportunities for entrepreneurs and their staff.
4. TOURISM HUB: An important first step in turning the Cox’s Bazar District into a viable tourist destination is developing a detailed blueprint for the area. Increased tourism and visitor spending can be achieved through the implementation of a strategic tourism development plan. The idea may seek to broaden the resort’s appeal by include activities and venues other from the beach. Creating eco-friendly attractions, water sports and other amusement facilities, cultural hotspots, eco-resort at Moheshkhali and adventure sports hubs would appeal to a broader range of vacationers. Constructing luxurious hotels, resorts, eateries, and other tourism attractions would attract more visitors and improve the area’s reputation.
5. GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY THROUGH AVIATION: The concept calls for the existing airport to undergo both extension and modernization in order to make it more accessible to passengers coming from all over the world. Enhanced air connection would entice international airlines, which in turn would increase the number of tourists from other countries visiting Cox’s Bazar and position the city as a convenient travel destination. A brand new, state-of-the-art international airport that will cater to tourists from other countries will be built, and it will feature the only maritime runway in the country, in addition to sea plane and helicopter service.
6. IMPROVED TRANSPORTATION: An organized transit system would enhance communication not only inside Cox’s Bazar but also to other areas of the region. Better public transport and road infrastructure would make it easier to commute people and transfer products, boosting trade and tourism. With the help of this plan, local transport infrastructure and traffic control will be modernized more quickly, allowing for the provision of convenient, quick, safe, orderly, efficient, and environmentally friendly transport services.
7. ENHANCED SANITATION AND CLEANLINESS: Cleaner streets, beaches, and public places would be the result of implementing a sanitation plan. This would not only make the atmosphere more attractive for residents and visitors, but it would also reduce the threats to people’s health, which would lead to an improvement in general well-being.
8. DISASTER RESILIENCE: Natural hazards like as cyclones and tornadoes are common in the area surrounding Cox’s Bazar. The resilience of the district will be improved through the implementation of a disaster management plan, which would include early warning systems, evacuation procedures, and resilient infrastructure. Because of this, fewer lives and fewer assets would be lost in the event of an adverse incident.
9. Overall Community Well-Being: It is essential for both residential neighborhoods and commercial establishments to have access to dependable utility services such as electricity, water supply, and waste management. Cox’s Bazar would become more appealing as a location for investment if its infrastructure were upgraded, which would also lead to an improvement in the residents’ quality of life. Residents of the area would experience an improvement in their quality of life as a result of the implementation of a comprehensive plan for the area’s socio-economic infrastructure, which would include the construction of healthcare facilities, educational institutions, and community centers. If people had access to better services, it would lead to improvements in human development indices as well as general well-being.
As a team leader of the master plan, what is your vision?
Cox’s Bazar has a long history of habitat and civilization. The livelihood of the local people, and the uniqueness of multi-ethnic communities, made it a vibrant special place for the region and country as a whole. It also has a long history of trade and commerce around the region.
Cox’s Bazar was the gateway for the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. My vision is to establish Cox’s Bazar as the new gateway to the world for the country by creating a vibrant local urban community, knowledge-based society, and ecologically sustainable tourism destination.
We know you as an aesthetic, creative architect and urban designer who designs keeping sustainable growth in mind. Will this reflect on the master plan?
General principles as the team leader, architect, and urban designer we are considering in master planning:
- Sustainable Development: Prioritize sustainability by incorporating natural resources, green spaces, energy-efficient design, and environmentally friendly infrastructure.
- Resilience: Design for resilience against natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes, which can be relevant in coastal areas like Cox’s Bazar.
- Community Engagement: Involve the local community in the planning process to ensure their needs and aspirations are considered.
- Infrastructure: Plan for efficient transportation systems, utilities, and public services to support the growing population.
- Tourism and Economy: Balance tourism development with preserving ecology with the local culture and heritage while creating economic opportunities.
- Aesthetics and Identity: Create a unique and attractive urban identity through architectural design and urban aesthetics.
- Accessibility: Ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all residents, including those with disabilities.
- Quality of Life: Prioritize public spaces, parks, and recreational areas to enhance residents’ quality of life.
Our vision for Cox’s Bazar’s masterplan should align with the specific goals and needs of the area and its residents, while also considering broader principles of sustainable and resilient urban development.
What will be the plan to revamp the tourism sector?
We are keeping the following things in mind
- Ecotourism engaging local people and cultural traditions and natural resources.
- Tourism for local market and international.
- Helping the local economy by developing relationships and dependency on the Bazar community.
- Zones for different cultural groups and building harmony in the region.
To conclude, the Cox’s Bazar Masterplan is holding an exceptional demonstration of Bangladesh’s commitment to sustainable development, economic prosperity, and environmental stewardship. The masterplan promises to reshape the future of the Cox’s Bazar district with its comprehensive approach incorporating multiple dimensions of development, disaster resilience, and tourism enhancement to achieve the economic growth. This visionary plan illustrates the nation’s dedication to a prosperous and sustainable future by emphasizing the relationship between progress and ecological preservation. The Cox’s Bazar Masterplan exemplifies Bangladesh’s voyage toward responsible and forward-thinking development through strategic planning and collaboration.