It was refreshing to see that the children of this city were given a chance to play in a car-free street on Manik Mia Avenue last Friday. The whole place was abuzz with their joyful chatter, although only for three hours. The initiative was very nice and well-thought-out. However, the event has also brought to light the fact that this city has been losing its open fields and playgrounds by the day, depriving our children of the joys of sports and physical activities.
Dhaka city has witnessed rampant grabbing of open spaces and playgrounds over the years. Some of the fields and open spaces have been turned into community centres, residential plots and kitchen markets. With more and more open spaces being grabbed, the children of this city are living in the confines of their homes spending more time with electronic gadgets and in front of TVs, which is seriously impeding their physical and mental development. What is more, many of the schools in the city do not even have proper playgrounds for the students. According to a BBS survey, only two percent of Dhaka children have access to playgrounds.
Therefore, we must ensure that our children enjoy all the charms of childhood, and have more open spaces to play and breathe in. For that, we must preserve the remaining open spaces, parks and playgrounds and recover those that have already been taken over by influential quarters. While we hope to see more initiatives such as the car-free street mentioned earlier, we also want the city authorities to make sure that there is at least one playground in every neighbourhood.