In the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan, if any tree obstructs the construction of footpaths, food stalls and other structures, it is being cut down. The Ministry of Liberation War Affairs does not have an account of how many trees have been cut down or will have to be cut down for these development works under the Swadhinatastambha Construction (Phase III) project at Suhrawardy Udyan. No information was available on how many trees were cut down at different stages since the start of the project in 1997.
However, officials at the Swadhinatastambha construction (third phase) project at Suhrawardy Udyan say “unnecessary” trees are being cut down as part of the planned greening. Even if the trees are cut down, new flowering trees will be planted. Various flowers will bloom throughout the year. The gardener will take care of the flowering plants. The amount of walking path is being increased so that people can walk without stepping on the grass. Benches of different designs will be made for the rest of the people. Some trees may be cut down. People involved in the project say that seven food kiosks are being set up in the park so that people can get better quality food at public gatherings. Toilets for women, children, people with disabilities, shelter under the shed in case of rain and ticket counter are under the same roof.
Environmentalists, urbanists, nature lovers and people from different walks of life are protesting against the cutting of trees in Suhrawardy Udyan. He is questioning the rationale of cutting down trees and setting up food shops or other establishments. Social media is protesting on Facebook like everyone else. According to urban experts, every major city needs 20 percent green space. But on paper, the new Dhaka has 12 percent and the old Dhaka has 5 percent. In reality, the amount is even less. Suhrawardy Udyan used to be a racecourse ground. On March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his historic speech ‘This time the struggle is for our liberation, this time the struggle is for freedom’ at a rally of millions of people at this racecourse ground. It was here that the defeated Pakistani forces surrendered on 16 December 1971. After independence, on March 17, 1972, the then Prime Minister of India and one of the friends of the Great Liberation War, Indira Gandhi, gave a speech on this racecourse ground during her visit to Bangladesh.
Historian Professor Muntasir Mamun told Prothom Alo, ‘Suhrawardy Udyan is a historical property, constitutionally it is the responsibility of the government to protect it. My personal opinion is that Suhrawardy Udyan should be kept as intact as possible. There may be an installation, but it has to be spread around. We have given our views on the protection of parks and plants in Dhaka city at different times. Most of the time it doesn’t lend itself to opinion. ‘
The Ministry of Liberation War is the enterprising ministry for the construction of the Independence Monument at Suhrawardy Udyan. The third phase of the project was designed by the Department of Architecture, Ministry of Housing and Public Works. The implementing agencies of the project are the Ministry of Liberation War, the Department of Public Works and Dhaka South City Corporation. National Development Engineers Limited is working as a contractor. In the third phase of the project since 2016, 500 underground car parks, walkways with spectacular reservoirs, underpasses, mosques, modernization of children’s parks with state-of-the-art rides, food shops, electric substations, sculptures of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and where surrendered Pakistani troops surrendered. , Indira Mancha and ancillary construction work is underway. Work on this phase of the project was scheduled to be completed in December 2019. However, 48 percent of the construction work has been completed by February this year. Some trees have been cut down
The first phase of construction of the Independence Monument at Suhrawardy Udyan started in 1998. The cost of the first and second phase works is 262 crore 8 lakh rupees. From 2018, the third phase of the project will cost another 265 crore 44 lakh 30 thousand rupees. Over the last 23 years, Suhrawardy Udyan has witnessed various works including erection of 150 feet high glass pillars, perpetual flame at the northern end of the park, reservoir, underground museum, installation of murals on the walls, open stage in front of Bangla Academy, new gate and steel fence around the park. . Garden trees have been cut down at different times for development work. Now the trees are being cut down again.
Visiting Suhrawardy Udyan last Tuesday and Wednesday, it was seen that work is underway to build several establishments for food shops. Bricks have been laid in some parts of the walkway. Some parts of the soil have been dug up. And some of the trees that fell in the design of this walkway have been cut down. Several trees in the garden are cross-marked. However, the authorities say that these were given by the protesters, and the protesters say that they will be cut. If the cross mark is taken into account, more than a hundred trees will be marked. The whole garden is crammed with bricks, stones, iron and wood.
In 2016, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the third phase of the master plan titled ‘Construction of Independence Pillar at Suhrawardy Udyan’. The architectural design of the third phase of the project has been prepared by the Department of Architecture. Asifur Rahman Bhuiyan, caretaker architect of the department and master planner of the third phase master plan of the project, told Prothom Alo that he did not have an estimate of how many trees would have to be cut down for the development work of this phase of the project. If a tree is to be cut down for construction of a walkway or for developmental work, it is being cut down. However, he has been instructed not to cut down large trees. Architect Asifur Rahman Bhuiyan said when asked where the accounts related to tree felling can be found, the Public Works Department will have this information. However, Jamilur Rahman, supervising engineer of the population project cell of the department, told Prothom Alo that they have sent information about tree felling under the project to the Ministry of Liberation War. If you want to know any information, you have to know from the Ministry of Liberation War.
The Ministry of Liberation War Affairs said in a press release on Wednesday, May 5, that the ministry is implementing a master plan at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan to present the true history of the great liberation war to future generations and the world. Although ‘some trees’ have been cut down in Suhrawardy Udyan for the implementation of this master plan, an initiative has been taken to plant about one thousand trees.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AQM Mozammel Haque told Prothom Alo, “We have written about cutting down trees. Please write so.” We do not have an account of how many trees were cut down. Guinea said to come. No work can be done by listening to you. There was never a garden here. There were races on the racecourse grounds. There was a public meeting. Lying is the forest. We have planted thousands of trees. I will add more. ‘The minister said that those who do not like the spirit of the liberation war are the ones who are trying to obstruct the work by saying different things.
That’s what the experts said
It was seen on the spot that notices have been issued in various places of Suhrawardy Udyan in the name of the authorities. A large tree has been painted in it. Under the project of construction of Independence Monument in the historic Suhrawardy Udyan, greening and environmental development work is underway to enhance the beauty of the park. Everyone’s cooperation is highly desirable. Asifur Rahman Bhuiyan, the caretaker architect of the Department of Architecture, told Prothom Alo that the first thing is that what is happening here is happening on the basis of the design approved by the appropriate authorities of the government. No work is being done outside the approved design. The number of walkways has been increased so that people can walk on green grass without stepping on it. In doing so, the trees that are important to keep, and those that are unnecessary, are being cut down. The trees in the garden were not planted according to any rules. There are also plans to plant new trees. ‘According to the Department of Architecture, the plan is to have trees in the garden so that flowers can be seen at all times. There will be gardeners. This will make the green grow more. There will be lights, people will come here even at night. And when people come, they have to provide various facilities including toilets and places to take shelter during the rainy season. However, Rafiq Azam, the chief architect of the modernization of 31 playgrounds and parks in the Dhaka South City Corporation’s ‘Water-Green Dhaka’ project for the development of grounds and parks, told Prothom Alo that for any installation, designers have to follow scientific methods. The opinion of the people has to be given priority. The logical reason for cutting down a tree to make an installation has to be clarified. Even if you have to cut down unnecessary trees, you have to explain it. And how many trees will be cut down, it must be informed. Urbanist Iqbal Habib complained that the three-dimensional presentation of the master plan of the third phase of the project, i.e. the details of the approved plan, included the construction of various paved infrastructures including food stalls and walkways. The excuse of cutting down old trees is being shown. Unfortunately, the survey was not presented to the public before it was done. The people-friendly process was not followed. Iqbal Habib said that the city was being attacked in the same way as Corona was attacking the lungs in the night, in the dark of night, by cutting down trees in the lockdown. Those involved need to be exemplary.