Nowhere to play | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 25, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:45 AM, October 25, 2017

Nowhere to play

Almost half of the field has been cordoned off to build a swimming pool while rest of the open space has been rented out for a month-long expo.

It is the present scenario of Chittagong Outer Stadium, one of the few playgrounds in the port city.

Not just the Outer Stadium, most of the city's playgrounds remain abuzz with activities all year round. But unfortunately, children are not a part of that.

The sight of children playing or running around freely under the open sky has become rare lately as most of the fields are being used to hold fairs or rallies.

Also, access to some is limited or restricted as construction work is going on to turn a playground into a park.

As a result, children are being deprived of a healthy life without open spaces that are crucial for their mental and physical growth, according to experts.

Many of the residents complained that a lack of maintenance by the authorities concerned is responsible for the prevailing situation.

The Outer Stadium is being used as a venue for holding fairs and exhibitions on a regular basis. The recent month-long Jamdani expo that started on October 2 ended yesterday.

Chittagong Jela Krira Sangstha is the owning and controlling authority of the arena.

This correspondent tried to get in touch with its joint general secretary Shahabuddin Shamim for his comments but he did not receive any phone calls despite repeated attempts. On the other hand, vice-president Hafizur Rahman declined to make any comment.

There are approximately nine large playgrounds in the city for around 60 lakh residents.  Of them, access to Jamburi Field in Agrabad area is limited due to construction works as it will be converted into a park soon.

Laldighi Maidan remains occupied most of the time with rallies while Railway Polo Ground is often rented out for holding fairs.

Besides, parade ground (Chittagong College field), Shaheed Shahjahan field at Pahartoli, Government Hazi Muhammad Mohsin College ground, Jamia Ahmadia Sunnia Alia Madrasa ground, Saint Placid's High School ground and Chittagong Collegiate School ground need maintenance.

Prof Dr Anupam Sen, a social scientist and vice chancellor of Premier University, Chittagong, said open spaces and playgrounds are crucial for children's mental and physical growth.

“It is the duty of the government to create more open spaces and playgrounds, not to destroy the existing ones,” he said.

Ashish Bhadra, former captain of national football team, said Chittagong is lagging behind in sports due to a shortage of playgrounds.

Criticising the construction of a park on Jamburi Field, he said, “It was unnecessary. We need playgrounds, not parks…”

Educationist Anwara Alam, former principal of Agrabad Mohila College, said, “It's a matter of regret that the city is losing its playgrounds… Playgrounds are crucial for children.”

The experts recommended holding fairs, rallies and exhibitions in auditoriums or convention centres. The existing practice of occupying open spaces continues to deprive children of games and sports.

Asked, Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) panel mayor Chowdhury Hasan Mahmud Hasni said, “We are trying to renovate the fields managed by us.”

Regarding building more playgrounds, he said, “Where will we get open space in the city? There is no open ground in my area at Dewan Bazar. The same scenario prevails in most of the areas.”

Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong Zillur Rahman said he had already instructed the authorities of the schools and colleges to protect their respective playgrounds.

Protecting playgrounds is important for ensuring healthy upbringing of children. “The education ministry is also strict in this regard…,” he added.

Housing and Public Works Minister Engr Mosharraf Hossain said fairs and expos should not be allowed on the playgrounds as it impedes children's right to play.

Asked, why the Public Works Department is constructing a park on Jamburi Field, he said there is also a crisis of parks in Chittagong city. A park is being constructed for the sake of the city dwellers.”

“If we had not chosen the place, where would we get space to construct the park?” he asked.

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