Development of DU must preserve its history and traditions
The Dhaka University authorities have undertaken a new master plan to expand its campus vertically to accommodate a growing number of students, teachers and staff. Under it, 97 high-rise buildings—including new academic buildings, dormitories, teachers' quarters, a modern standard library, medical centre, etc—will be built and 599 old structures will be demolished. The plan also involves modern parking facilities, new roads with cycling lanes and walkways, playgrounds, etc, among other things.
While we support the DU authorities' plans to expand to meet the demand of the time, we cannot help expressing our concerns about what would happen if they are not executed efficiently, taking into consideration the opinions of experts, teachers and students on how the campus should be. Currently, 40,000 students, 2,000 teachers and 4,000 staffers at DU face severe accommodation problems, and the vertical expansion of the 304-acre campus would surely be beneficial for them. However, urban planners have expressed worries regarding the high-rise model's impacts on the university's environment, and educationists and former professors have also opined against radical changes that may affect the historic institution's existing character.
We would also like to ask the DU authorities: alongside its structural development, are there concrete plans to improve overall educational standards of the university? Will they invest more in research, where the university is still lagging behind? If only a fraction of the Tk 9,000 crore budget for the new master plan could be invested in research facilities, the quality of education could improve significantly. We request the DU authorities to make efforts to address these issues, alongside necessary investments in structural development.
We also urge the authorities to take every decision cautiously when it comes to demolishing old structures—Madhur Canteen, Arts Building, Faculty of Fine Arts building, Curzon Hall and many others in DU have immense historical value and must not be harmed in any way. As recommended by experts, there should be absolute transparency, and the country's modern architects, aestheticians, urban planners and environmentalists should be involved in every step.
Preserving the greenery and open spaces of the campus must remain a priority. The DU campus currently houses 985 buildings, which take up 26 percent of the total space. Reportedly, according to the new plan, concrete structures will occupy only 21 percent of the total space. We hope this will translate into reality when the plan is implemented. In simple words, any development plan of Dhaka University must be directed towards creating a knowledge-based environment on campus, that will have the necessary facilities while also preserving the area's historic character.