The authorities concerned behind the recent development project at Suhrawardy Udyan -- including the tree-felling which caused a public outcry -- did not take the Urban Development Committee's opinion before launching the project, said speakers at a webinar yesterday.
Moreover, according to law, public parks and open spaces cannot have more than five percent concrete area, whereas the plan for Suhrawardy Udyan has 37 percent concrete area, claimed architects.
In the planning dialogue organised by Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) titled "Park Development Project and Nature-Environmental Protection", speakers said the character of the udyan is being changed for excessive infrastructure, which is a result of deprioritising nature and environment while preparing its planning and design.
BIP demanded inclusion of relevant professionals such as urban planners, architects, urban designers, engineers, horticulturists, ecologists, and sociologists in the preparation of a new project.
They said this tendency to devalue the environment and people's interest is not only restricted to the Suhrawardy Udyan development saga, but has become a regular practise throughout the country.
As a result, concrete and grey areas are increasing while greenery and public space are decreasing at an alarming rate.
Presenting the results of a recently conducted survey, BIP general secretary Adil Muhammad Khan said in the proposed design of Suhrawardy Udyan, the percentage of infrastructure, concrete, and grey area is 37 percent.
Meanwhile, in Osmani Udyan this is 52 percent, in Gulshan's Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed Park it is 38 percent, while it is 42 percent in Banani Park.
He then demanded an immediate halt to the ongoing infrastructural work at Suhrawardy Udyan and the preparation of a new plan through systematic analysis, conducting necessary environmental studies.
He also demanded appropriate action against those responsible for deforestation and damage to the park's environment.
Akhtar Mahmood, president of BIP, alleged that the government departments often compete with each other for new development or beautification projects in order to siphon money, rather than considering what is necessary for people.
Md Ashraful Islam, project director of the Detailed Area Plan (DAP) of Dhaka, said the proposed plan of Suhrawardy Udyan is in conflict with the provisions of the "The Play-ground, Open space, Park and Natural Wetland Conservation Act 2000".
He said such projects should be not be permitted without a public hearing.
BIP vice-president planner Md Ariful Islam said it is possible to develop gardens and parks without compromising the features of its existing environment.
"If development projects are not environment-friendly, they cannot be people-friendly," said Mohammad Russell Kabir, the organisation's joint secretary.