It was clearly a ‘criminal act’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 12, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:39 AM, May 12, 2021


It was clearly a ‘criminal act’

...Architect Rafiq Azam

Cutting down trees from a public space in the name of development work in a city like Dhaka is sort of a crime, said architect Rafiq Azam.

Destroying greens for constructing a structure is a century-old concept. Architecture students were taught this nearly 100 years ago and that concept started to change around 50 years back, he added.

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"Now the concept of architecture has totally changed," said Rafiq Azam while talking to The Daily Star yesterday.

Now an architect should consider the entire landscape of a certain place as their architectural work. So maybe an architect may decide not to build any structure at all if she or he feels, Azam said.

An architect should consider the geological characteristics of a certain place, climatic condition of that area, trees, sunlight and soil condition before deciding to construct any structure.

"You need to remember, a structure is not only for humans, but also for wildlife," he said.

Asked about his views on tree felling at Suhrawardy Udyan for development work, Azam said, it was clearly a "criminal act".

The government has not told them to cut down trees and make those structures. So those involved with the development work should have thought about how to do it without harming the environment.

"There is a norm and standard procedure to work in a public place. But they did not follow it. They could have engaged people or exchanged views with experts. In that case, there would have been a festivity surrounding the project, but it has now become a pain for us," he said.

In the 80 acres area of Suhrawardy Udyan, normally there should be five to seven thousand trees even after building all those structures.

Also there was a scope to recharge groundwater using the 80 acres. If there's two inches of rainfall a day, it would be possible to recharge two crore liters of water there.

It takes time to recharge water, so they could build small water retention ponds there to recharge groundwater. In this way, it's possible to recharge more than 100 crore liters of water during the three months of monsoon, he said.

"Every day we extract a huge quantity of water, if we do not recharge water where would we get water from in future?" he pointed out.

The quantity of oxygen a person needs is equivalent to what three to four trees can produce, he said. "Let's take one tree for one person. There are around two-crore people in Dhaka. Do we have two-crore trees here?"

Did the architect think about that before deciding to fell trees? They should have thought about all these things before harming our national resources, Azam said.

When asked about the claim of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works officials that 1,000 trees will be planted to compensate the felling, Azam said planting saplings does not compensate the tree felling.

"Maybe it takes 50 years for a tree to mature and then it produces half of the oxygen quantity a person needs. So, small saplings are not equivalent to matured trees," he said.     

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