Home » Don’t want concrete structures at greenery’s expense: protesters

Don’t want concrete structures at greenery’s expense: protesters

by Khan Helal

Protesting an ongoing construction project at the capital’s  Suhrawardy Udyan, as part of which many old trees are being felled,  green activists and students held a rally at Shahbagh  yesterday.

They demanded a stop to tree felling and instead, planting 10,000 trees during the upcoming rainy season.

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The  project was undertaken to develop the Udyan and make it greener.  However, activists said the authorities concerned are seemingly  contradicting one of their own goals, as under the same project, they  are felling old trees to construct buildings. Meanwhile, social media has also been flooded with protest against the authorities’ move.  

The  project — Shawdhinata Stambha Construction Project in Dhaka Third  Phase — worth Tk 265.44 crore started in January 2018. Its  implementation organisations are the Liberation War ministry, Public  Works Department and Dhaka South City Corporation.

According to  officials, under the project, seven public toilets, walkways, food  stalls, pond, underground parking lot, underpass and a mosque will be  constructed.

Experts, however, said whether building  concrete structures at the expense of greenery, as sources are claiming,  is really “enhancing the beauty”.

During yesterday’s  protest, filmmaker Sudip Sajib said the balance of nature at the park  has been damaged in the name of beautification. “Who will take this  responsibility?” he said.

Those responsible [for cutting trees] should be brought to book through a fair probe, he added.

Mir  Arshadul Hoque, a former student of Dhaka University who protested tree  cutting around two years back at the Udyan, said the authorities should  plant more trees at the park to recover the damage they did by cutting  trees.

He said they cut the trees during the “lockdown” so that  people won’t be able to know about it. He also alleged that some  officials were financially benefited for it.  

“I have counted 50  to 60 trees which were felled in the last couple of days. They even  tried to hide their misdeed,” he said. “We don’t want food stalls,  concrete structures at Suhrawardy Udyan at the expense of greenery.”

This  newspaper visited the spot recently and saw the ongoing construction  work of six structures for making canteens. Three are in the west, two  in the north-east, and one in the south-east parts of the park.

On  the western side, a number of old trees were felled and the area now looks  barren. According to witnesses, 15 trees, planted in the ’70s, have  already been felled there.  

Contacted, Asifur Rahman Bhuiyan,  superintendent architect of the Department of Architecture, involved  with the planning and designing of the project, said they will not  construct any restaurant in the Udyan, clearing trees.

He said  they will construct walkways so that they can protect the greenery.  Asifur said they are trying to save the big trees that are aligned with  the design of the walkway, but they will cut the small ones if they fail  to protect those. He also said they will plant more trees, taking  suggestions from experts.

“We will set up seven toilets and sheds next to those,” he said. There will also be seven small food stalls, he added.

Suhrawardy  Udyan has already had several structures like the 150 feet glass tower,  Shikha Anirban, an underground museum, amphitheatre, mural, and a  reflecting pool.

The official said a parking lot will also be  built with a capacity of 500 cars. He said they will construct it  without damaging any natural groundwater recharge capacity or cutting  trees.  

Besides, Asifur said, the Shahbagh police box will be  relocated, and 50 flower shops will be set up in place of the existing  flower market.

LEGAL NOTICE SERVE

Meanwhile, a  Supreme Court lawyer yesterday served a legal notice on three government  high officials concerned, asking them to cancel the activities of  clearing trees and setting up restaurant at Suhrawardy Udyan in 48  hours.

Lawyer Manzill Murshid sent the notice to Liberation War  Affairs Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Public Works Department Chief  Engineer Md Shamim Akhter and Chief of Architect of Bangladesh Mir  Monzur Rahman through email.

In the notice, Murshid said if  they don’t stop such activities in 48 hours, a contempt of court  petition will be filed against them.

He said many trees at the  Udyan have been cut and its environment has been damaged in order to  establish restaurant or shops on business purposes ignoring the 2009  High Court verdict.

Following a petition, the HC on July 7,  2009 directed the government to identify and preserve all the important  historic places related to the republic’s Liberation War and to set up  memorial monuments at the historic places at Suhrawardy Udyan so that  people from home and abroad can pay homage to martyred freedom fighters. 

The HC had ordered the government to take steps to protect and  maintain the historic places at the Udyan where Bangabandhu delivered  his historic speech on March 7 in 1971 and where the Pakistan army  surrendered on December 16, 1971.    



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