Sports out, fair in | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 17, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 17, 2011

Sports out, fair in

HC order ignored, Dhanmondi playground used for business

This photo taken on April 13 shows structures being built on Dhanmondi playground on Road-8 violating a court order that instructed everything not related to sports or park be removed. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq

Makeshift structures were set up on Thursday on Dhanmondi Road-8 playground to organise Baishakhi Mela (fair) in violation of a High Court order that termed illegal any structures other than those related to sports on playgrounds and parks.
The HC on March 15 ordered Dhaka City Corporation to remove all illegal structures on playgrounds and parks to preserve those.
With unauthorised structures, Dhanmondi Club Limited has been occupying the playground for decades. In 2009, the club was renamed after prime minister's slain brother Sheikh Jamal.
Mubasshar Hussein, president of Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) who earlier filed a petition with the HC for saving the Dhanmondi playground, said Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited is using the name of Sheikh Hasina's brother to run its business forbidden by the court.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (Bela), one of the petitioners seeking conservation of playgrounds, said, “Such use of the playground is illegal as it is not related to sports.”
DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka, however, said he was not aware of illegal structures being built on the playground whereas DCC is the custodian of it.
Asadur Rahman Rana, a member of Event Management Committee of the club, said they informed the DCC chief executive officer about holding the fair.
The club built some 40 stalls and a stage along the boundary walls inside the playground.
Rana said sacrifices have to be made for a celebration like this.
On violation of the HC order, he said the club's top officials can answer regarding that.
Despite repeated attempts, club's president Manzur Kader could not be reached over the phone for his comment.
Robi mobile telephone company sponsored the event and the club did not take any money for the stalls, said Rana adding that the wives of club members and various boutique shops took the stalls.
“We got permission from Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner, and the local officer-in-charge (OC) assured us of all possible support for the event,” said Rana.
Upon enquiry, Moniruzzaman, OC of Dhanmondi Police Station, said he was not aware of the HC order.
The HC in another order in December 2009 restrained any organisations-- public or private-- from altering the character of Dhanmondi playground.
Following a writ petition filed jointly by Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) and IAB, an HC bench in 2004 issued a rule upon the then DCC mayor asking him to file a report on the measures taken to preserve the playground. The court also ordered to remove all unauthorised semi-concrete structures there.
But DCC has not yet removed the structures.
Another HC bench in May 2003, in response to a writ petition filed by Bela, asked the government to ensure proper maintenance and protection of the playgrounds and open spaces in the capital.
Public Works Department (PWD), owner of the 13.5-bigha Dhanmondi playground, handed it over to DCC in January 1984 for its maintenance and conservation.
The public works ministry in July 2008 decided to free the playground from any illegal occupancy and maintain it as a public open space. However, the decision has yet to be implemented.

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