City fathers' step-fatherly steps | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 02, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 02, 2008

City fathers' step-fatherly steps


Excellent misuse: Gulshan Central Park being rented out for wedding ceremonies.Photo: STAR

Ignoring the widespread public outcry and ministerial direction against adverse use of the city's playgrounds, Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) rents them out regularly on commercial basis.
The DCC rents out the playgrounds for holding fair, musical concerts and wedding ceremonies in exchange of money, denying the community of their right to open space and sporting facility, alleged locals.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports in a recent letter has directed the authorities not to use playgrounds for other purposes, according to sources.
The DCC rented out the playground of Gulshan Central Park for holding a series of wedding ceremonies from December 26 to January 1. Huge marquees were erected occupying the field for the purpose.
Earlier, the same playground was rented out to an organisation to hold a fair of handicrafts on December 1.
The field will remain occupied with such functions throughout January, said a source in the DCC.
Shirin Shila, joint general secretary of Gulshan Society, said this is a designated playground in the neighbourhood and it gets frequently damaged as a result of setting up of makeshift structures for other purposes.
"Adverse use of it simply means denial of the minimal sporting facility of the youths and children," she said. "We want it just as a playground."
Use of playgrounds for fair and concerts also create nuisance in the residential area, she said adding that it also creates traffic congestion.
Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury, noted academic and head of a high-level advisory committee of DCC's park development and beautification, said it is very unjust on the part of DCC to use a playfield for commercial purposes.
"Wasteful use of the playgrounds is just unacceptable," he said. "It is all the more unacceptable when DCC itself indulges in it."
Games and sports are essential for a healthy social life, said Prof Choudhury. "Absence of wholesome sporting facilities is greatly responsible for artificiality, frustration and addiction in today's society."
A playground must always remain as it is, he said adding that the city managers must find new places to create more playfields as the city is choked with severe constraints of such spaces.
An official at the DCC Estate Department admitted that the sports ministry in a letter directed not to use playgrounds for other purposes.
He said requesting anonymity that DCC earns Tk 23,334 per day renting out the Gulshan Central Park playground and that bookings of the programmes now taking place were made much earlier.
Estate officer Khalil Ahmed said that there is hardly any scope to use the playgrounds for other purposes, as a High Court ruling forbids it.
Responding to a question how the DCC then allows such uses of playgrounds, he said, "I have just taken over my position at DCC."
Responding to same question, DCC Chief Estate Officer Abu Mohammad Yusuf said, "I have just taken over the new charge at DCC, I will look into it."
Following public criticism, the Ministry of Social Welfare retracted from holding a weeklong handicrafts fair at the Dhanmondi playground between road no-8 and 9 in the first week of December.
The High Court in an order on April 24, 2004 directed the DCC authorities to submit a report on what steps they have taken to maintain and preserve Dhanmondi playground in the light of playground, open space and wetland protection act of 2000. Authorities are yet to respond to the HC order.

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