<i>DCC yet to remove unauthorised structures</i>
Dhanmondi playground has been occupied by Dhanmondi Club illegally for more than four decades in the name of maintenance without any contract or authorisation from the authorities concerned, according to officials.
The club has been using the playground beside Dhanmondi road-8, in an exclusive manner and making money out of it though it is a designated public space, the locals alleged.
The club office at the playground is also unauthorised as it has been built without permission from the authorities concerned, according to sources.
Any aspiring sports team or clubs have to pay the Dhanmondi Club authorities to use the ground for practice. Besides, the club earns a huge amount of money renting it out for holding fairs and cattle market before Eid-ul-Azha.
Public access to the playground is restricted. One has to pay the club to use the field if one intends to organise any sports match or tournament.
General secretary (in-charge) of Dhanmondi Club Iliyasur Rahman Babul said the club takes donation from those who use the field. The money is used for its maintenance. “But the amount is very meagre and is not adequate to run the activities of the club.”
“We have no other source of income to run the club,” Babul said. “Whatever income we can generate from the playground is the only earning of Dhanmondi Club.”
The club has been operating from this field since 1962, he said.
“We have no contract with the DCC to possess and maintain Dhanmondi playground but we have a verbal approbation,” Babul said.
Abu Mohammad Yusuf, DCC chief estate officer, said, “To my knowledge, DCC has not authorised any club or organisations to use any public playgrounds exclusively and make money out of them in the name of maintenance.”
Replying to a question, he said that DCC at present has no executive magistrates, following judicial separation, to carry out eviction drives.
“Once we get executive magistrates, we will go for eviction of any unauthorised clubs or organisations occupying public playgrounds,” he said.
DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka said some of the clubs like Dhanmondi Club have long been in occupancy of city's playgrounds. “But I have no idea that they rent out these public spaces and make money. Generating money out of playgrounds in the name of maintenance is unauthorised,” he added.
A high official of an organisation working with the disabled said that they had paid Dhanmondi Club Tk 6 lakh for holding fairs in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
A former captain of the national cricket team said requesting anonymity that public use of a playground becomes restricted if it is occupied by a certain club or organisation.
Mubasshar Hussain, a resident of Dhanmondi and president of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB), said Public Works Department (PWD) while handing over the playground to DCC, mentioned that the Dhanmondi Club house is unauthorised.
Following a writ petition jointly filed by IAB and Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) on April 24, 2004, the High Court directed the DCC not to use Dhanmondi playground for any purposes other than sports and to submit a report on what steps DCC has taken to maintain and preserve it. The court further asked DCC to report what actions have been taken for removal of unauthorised structures thereon.
However, Dhanmondi Club authorities rented out the playground to Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) in March 2006 to hold a two-day council meeting beginning on April 3, in defiance to the High Court (HC) order.
The then high officials of DCC at that time said Dhanmondi Club has no authority to rent the field out to anyone. The playground belongs to the DCC. Dhanmondi Club office situated on this playground is illegal, they said.