Even a decade back, the around five-bigha pond in the capital's Gandaria was a source of fresh water for the residents, but the waterbody is in death throes now due to sheer negligence of the authorities concerned.
The pond used to provide a much-needed respite to the residents from the jaded city life. It used to be surrounded by various trees. Over the last 20 years, locals planted many of those themselves.
Besides being a natural haven and a spot to relax awhile, the pond used to cater for households of the communities.
But over the years, rampant encroachment and waste dumping has continued to threaten its existence.
Nowadays, with structures surrounding it and almost the entire pond covered by aquatic plants and garbage, it's almost impossible to imagine this used to be a vital part of the neighbourhood.
The encroachment started around 10 years back but it escalated a few days before the national election (December 30, 2018) when some influential locals felled many trees and started constructing shops in and around the water body, said locals.
According to the Field, Open Space, Park and Natural Water Body Protection Act 2000, filling up of waterbodies including ponds is illegal.
The construction started in a massive scale just before the election and it's still ongoing, said locals. If not immediately saved, the waterbody will disappear soon and remain just a whisper of the past, they added.
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) acquired the land, including the waterbody, for its residential project, Gandaria DIT plot, in 1962/63, said a Rajuk official.
Ali Hossain, a resident of the Gandaria DIT plot, said the pond was used by many. “We grew up with it. This waterbody is a part of our heritage.”
Contacted, Chairman of Rajuk Md Abdur Rahman on Monday said they have already been informed about the encroachment. “No illegal structures will be allowed. I've already instructed officials concerned to demolish those as early as possible,” assured the chairman.
He said they have a plan to protect the pond under a project. “The details concerning estimation of the plan will be finalised by next week. After that, we will float a tender in this regard,” he added.
Meantime, one fourth of the pond has already been grabbed, said locals. Also, incessant dumping of waste from the nearby households has made its water, which was once fresh, dirty.
“For the last seven years, due to the water's worsening quality, no one has been using the pond anymore,” said Anisur Rahman, a local.
Jesmin Sultana, an elderly resident, said she and her sister used to swim in the waterbody around 25 years back. “We used to have so much fun swimming there during the warm summer days. Our children can't even imagine that nowadays. To them, it's just a dirty waterbody.”
She also requested the authorities concerned to save the pond.