Still occupied flouting High Court order of 2004
A limited company named after prime minister's slain brother Sheikh Jamal continues occupying Dhanmondi road-8 playground, as Dhaka City Corporation has ignored the High Court (HC) directions in this regard for seven years.
Dhanmondi Club, which has been occupying the playfield for four decades with unauthorised structures and without permission, was turned into a limited company named after Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal in August 2009.
DCC, official custodian of the playground, has ever been permissive of its unauthorised occupancy and commercial uses in clear disregard to HC directions.
Following a writ petition, a HC bench in April 2004 directed the DCC mayor to report to the court within 20 days as to what actions it had taken to preserve the playground and remove the unauthorised semi-concrete structures there.
DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka evaded an answer to why they did not free the playground of unauthorised occupancy despite HC directions. He just said the law section would take care of legal matters.
Prof Muzaffer Ahmad, a resident of Dhanmondi and noted environmental activist, said the playground would embrace the same fate as Abahani field has, denying the residents a free open space.
Manzur Kader, president of the club, told The Daily Star at the time of renaming the club that they would build a mini stadium on the playground including a six-storey club building, cricket pitch, football and hockey ground, and swimming pool with gymnastic facilities.
He also said the club would be formed in the pattern of elitist Dhaka Club, Gulshan Club, and Uttara Club.
The HC, however, restrained anybody from altering the character of the playground.
The club recently persuaded DCC to replace the existing boundary wall of the playground with an expensive one at a cost of more than half a crore takas.
A recently-excluded member of the club's 11-member executive committee said the club takes huge financial contribution from various high-profile businesspersons in the name of sports.
Asked how the club has been running its activities in the playground without permission with unauthorised structures, Manzur Kader said, "You better talk to the prime minister and do whatever you wish."
Md Mashiar Rahman, chief estate officer of DCC, said, "We have not authorised anybody to take possession or care of the playground. Those who are there are occupying the playground illegally."
Public Works Department (PWD), owner of the13.5-bigha Dhanmondi playground, handed it over to DCC in January 1984 for maintenance and conservation.
The DCC did not live up to its duty as a custodian to prevent the illegal occupancy, said Abdul Kader Chowdhury, executive engineer of PWD.
The public works ministry in July 2008 decided to free the playground of any illegal occupancy and maintain it as a public open space. Nothing has happened yet to carry out the decision.
A HC bench in May 2003, following a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), issued a rule upon the government to ensure proper maintenance and protection of the playgrounds and open spaces.