Blissful Ctg lacks free public spaces
Newlywed Dipak Nandi and his wife went to Jatisangha Park (UN Park) recently on a Friday.
As soon as the couple entered the place in the port city's Panchlaish area, they were welcomed by heaps of mud and scattered garbage instead of greeneries and open space. To them, the place looked more like a landfill.
The couple then decided to try their luck at Abhoy Mitra Ghat -- a much sought-after spot for city dwellers to enjoy fresh air by the banks of the Karnaphuli river in Sadarghat area.
“But it was overcrowded,” said Dipak. “Also, hawkers were forcing us to buy unhygienic food at a higher price. When we refused, they started harassing us.”
He said they had to leave the spot due to the harassment. “I went to the Ghat last week also but could not find a place to sit as it was swarming with people.”
Though Chittagong is a city to which nature has endowed all its beauties, the dwellers are deprived of parks and planned recreational places.
As a result, people, especially children, are unable to spend their pastimes in a healthy way.
SEVEN PARKS FOR 60 LAKH RESIDENTS
There are only seven parks in the port city for around 60 lakh residents. Of the parks, Biplob Udyan in Sholoshahar, Jatishangha Park in Panchlaish and Laldighi Park in Laldighi area are maintained by the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), where people have free access.
On the other hand, Karnaphuli Shishu Park in Agrabad, Kazir Dewri Shishu Park in Kazir Dewri and Concord Amusement Park in Foy's Lake area are leased out to private companies. Residents have to pay a certain amount to enter the parks. Also, Shadhinota Park in Chandgaon area is under the CCC's management, which requires an entry fee.
During a recent visit to Abhoy Mitra Ghat, these correspondents saw some hermaphrodites realising money from visitors but did not find any police patrol team to stop them.
Contacted, Saleh Mohammad Tanvir, additional commissioner (crime and operation) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, said they did not receive any complaint of public nuisance by hawkers or hermaphrodites in the area.
“We will look into the matter. If necessary, a patrol team will be deployed in the area,” he added.
On the other hand, Jatisangha Park has been left in a sorry state for the last two years for renovation work. For that reason, Biplob Udyan remains overcrowded. Laldighi Park is the only park where people from all walks of life can still relax.
Azizul Islam, a resident of Panchlaish, who went to Jatishangha Park last Saturday, said, “Earth was piled up all around as if it was a garbage depot.”
Meanwhile, Mou Ahmed, a mother of one from Patenga, said, “Besides Patenga beach, we don't have that many suitable places where we can enjoy with our children.”
“Only names of restaurants come to mind when we think of spending time with families. No wonder children are becoming addicted to junk food and video games since they don't have anywhere to go.”
REPLACING PARKS, FIELDS
The government is constructing a park on Jamburi field, in place of the playground. In addition, on December 24 last year, Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain after visiting the under-construction “Jamburi Park” told reporters that a novo-theatre will be made in place of Karnaphuli Shishu Park in Agrabad.
On December 26 the same year, CCC Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin at a programme said the city corporation would construct a Liberation War memorial at the place of Kazir Dewri Shishu Park. However, he did not elaborate when the memorial would be constructed.
The civil society members and social scientists criticised both the initiatives terming those “unplanned”.
“It is unfortunate that the minister declared to construct a novo-theatre in place of a children's park,” said social scientist and Vice Chancellor of Premier University, Chittagong Prof Dr Anupam Sen.
“A park is more important than a novo-theatre,” he said. “Our children already don't have suitable recreational places…All the open grounds are being occupied.”
“If we fail to provide them with open spaces and parks for their proper mental development, can we later blame them for their derailment?” he asked.
About the Jamburi field, he said playgrounds should exist to ensure healthy upbringing of a child. Parks should be constructed somewhere else, he said.
Freedom fighter and Liberation War researcher Dr Mahfuzur Rahman said Chittagong is not a “children friendly” city as it is already short on parks.
The city should have at least 10 parks with free access for all, he said.
WHAT THE MAYOR SAYS
Contacted, CCC Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin said he is trying to make the city clean and green. “We have taken various initiatives to this end.”
“An initiative has been taken to make the footpaths -- from Kazir Dewri intersection to Nur Ahmed Road, along the Chittagong Outer Stadium -- green and eye-catching,” he said.
“Also, there will be other facilities under the project for people to pass their leisure time. We have also planned to create recreational spots in different areas of the city,” he said.
Asked about the derelict state of Jatisangha Park, Nasir said when the CCC took an initiative to renovate the park last year, some locals filed a case against the move. As the case is now pending with the court, the work cannot be restarted, he said.
Mentionable, CCC flouted a tender to lease out the park for development and management for 25 years on February 9, 2016. Panchlaish Residential Area Welfare Association protested the move saying that the park's privatisation would restrict people's free access to it.
The association also filed a writ petition with the High Court against the move.