Cultural events capped on DC Hill
The sudden decision of limiting the number of cultural programmes on the DC Hill premises by the Chittagong District Administration will impede smooth cultural practices in the port city, experts and locals opined.
However, no formal declaration has yet been made neither any notice has been issued regarding the decision. But, the authorities concerned have stopped giving permission to hold cultural programmes in DC Hill, a well-known cultural arena in the port city.
On September 23, Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain after joining a cleaning campaign there told journalists that different organisers dump rubbish on the premises during programmes and make the place dirty.
The minister on that day announced that only three programmes -- Pahela Baishakh, Rabindra Jayanti, and Nazrul Jayanti -- will be allowed on the spot.
Rubel Das Prince, chief coordinator of Nabanna Utsab Udjapan Parishad 1424 Bangla, told The Daily Star that the CDA rejected the application of Shishumela, a cultural organisation of children, seeking permission to celebrate “Nabanna Utsab” there.
Later, the festival was held on a college ground in the city on November 14.
In last two years, the festival was held on the DC Hill premises, said Rubel, adding, “Had we held the programme on that spot, we could have drawn more audience.”
Different cultural organisations and locals are observing various programmes, including forming human chains, protesting the decision.
Akbar Reza, president of theatre group Arindam Natya Sampraday, told The Daily Star that the DC Hill premises has enormous importance as it is located in the centre of the city and has an open stage.
The stage was built some 16 years ago by the then government and later, a gallery and two walkways were also constructed. The space altogether is about 5.2 acres and can accommodate over 1,500 spectators. The entire place was renovated in 2015.
There are also open stages in Chittagong Railway Building (CRB) area and on the District Shilpakala Academy premises. But, people are usually afraid of joining any evening event in CRB area as the place is a bit isolated while the other spot mostly attracts students, said Akbar.
So, the only good option that remains is the DC Hill premises.
Ahmed Iqbal Haider, convener of Chattagram Pahela Baishakh Udjapan Parishad, said the district administration cannot take such a decision as the government did not make the open stage for celebrating only three programmes.
“We will wage tougher programmes, if the decision is not cancelled,” he added.
Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong Zillur Rahman Chowdhury said, “The premises mostly remain dirty, neither the residents can use the walkways. Moreover, use of loudspeakers create nuisance during programmes for the residents around the area.”
On the other hand, the bungalows of the divisional commissioner and deputy commissioner of Chittagong are also situated at the top of the hill.
“Considering all these, we have taken the decision. Besides, the minister was dissatisfied with the dirty premises during his recent visit and took the decision to restrict the number of programmes to three,” he said, adding, “We cannot defy the instruction.”
Contacted, the minister said, “There are a lot of venues, including Theatre Institute Chittagong, District Shilpakala Academy Auditorium and Muslim Institute in the city, to hold cultural programmes. But, we do not have too many walkways.”
“Besides, organisers do not clean the area after holding programmes. Neither the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), nor the Chittagong Development Authority, not even the DC, takes the responsibility of cleaning the place,” he added.
Reacting to the decision, Prof Dr Serajul Islam Chowdhury, president of Chittagong city unit Khelaghor, said the DC Hill is a well-known cultural arena.
Restricting programme celebration to protect walkways would hamper smooth cultural practice. There are walkways in Chittagong College Field, Laldighi Par and also in DC Hill.
“It is the CCC's responsibility to keep the place clean. You do not cut your head for mitigating headache,” he said.
Rashed Hasan, organising secretary of Bangladesh Abritti Samonnoy Parishad, said the DC Hill premises has been used for cultural activities for 30 years. “If there is any problem, we can sit with police and CCC officials for ensuring security and other solutions,” he said.
“But, imposing a ban on programmes is not acceptable,” he added.
Contacted, CCC's Chief Conservancy Officer Shafiqul Mannan Siddique did not make any comment rather than saying the CCC workers clean DC Hill premises regularly.