To fence off or not? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 09, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:26 AM, June 09, 2021

Shaheed Motiur Park in Gulistan

To fence off or not?

Renovated and unfenced last year, DSCC now closing off the park again to keep floating population away

It seems like the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has plenty of public money to burn.

DSCC renovated the Shaheed Motiur Park in Gulistan spending Tk 9 crore and opened it for public last year. As part of the renovation works, it removed the iron fencing and lowered the boundary walls to give it an open look, and for the easy access of the public.

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But now the city corporation is fencing the park boundary with iron structures again, spending around Tk 80 lakh, to "protect it from floating people", according to officials.

"We have decided to set up boundaries so that floating people can't damage the park. They are now entering the park from all sides and destroying its beauty by cooking food and drying their clothes there," said Munshi Md Abul Hasem Abul, DSCC superintendent engineer.

Justifying the decision, DSCC (ward-13) councillor Md Enamul Haque said, "Bangladesh is not like a European country and some decisions have to be taken considering our own realities."

However, city planners said protecting parks with walls and fencing is a wrong concept as it helps drug peddlers and addicts easily occupy the space, which has been the case in the past.

They also said the recent DSCC decision also goes against the concept of keeping the park open from all sides -- based on which the city corporation is renovating 19 parks and 12 playgrounds.

DSCC has been renovating these facilities under a project called "Jalsoboujer Dhaka", prepared by 70 architects in 2017, with an aim to turn parks and playgrounds beautiful, green and open.

Md Rafiq Azam, principal architect of SHATOTTO, who was the team leader of the project, said the latest initiative of DSCC will not solve the problem.

"There were boundaries surrounding the park before but the problem was not solved. The same thing will happen again this time," said Azam.

In addition, he said floating people also have a right to use the park. What the authorities need is to work on changing their behavioral pattern instead of trying to drive them way, he added.

"The park will have facilities like coffee shops and library and the authorities can involve a group of them [floating people] in activities such as cleaning the park after providing them with training," he suggested.

Once engaged, they will protect the park and will also build awareness regarding cleanliness among others, Azam said.

He said, "You have to take a programme to develop the community like the one taken at Bahadur Shah Park, which involves the floating population. Trying to drive them out and setting up boundaries is not the solution."

Contacted, DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said they have taken the initiative following the "people's demand".

"People are not enjoying the beauty and facilities of the park due to vagabonds who are occupying the space. That's why we are setting up boundaries so that it can be maintained properly," he said.

He said people will be able to see the insides of the park from outside. "We are not erecting boundary walls, we are only setting up grilles."

The park will have lots of greenery and a flower garden, the mayor said, adding that there will be three to four gates in the park and people will be able to enter from all sides.    

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