Shahbagh Park work may take 6-yrs to finish
Zarif Mahmud: Four years ago, the Directorate of Public Works and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) took the initiative to modernize Shahbagh Shishu Park in Dhaka. Till now they could not start the work of the park. The two organizations have no specific information about when the work will start or end. But since the park has been closed for a long time, children and teenagers are deprived of entertainment opportunities.
Shahbagh Shishu Park (formerly Shaheed Zia Shishu Park) is owned by Public Works Department. Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) is responsible for managing the park. However, under a project of the Ministry of Liberation War, the Directorate of Public Works is working on underground car parking under the park. It will take another year to complete the construction of their parking lot. After that the mechanical department of DSCC will install rides in the park through a separate project.
In total, it may take another two years to open this park, said those concerned.
Meanwhile, parents are going to Shahbag every morning and afternoon with children and teenagers thinking that the park is open or the renovation work of the park has been completed. Many people go to the park especially on Friday-Saturday public holidays. But they are returning with regret as the park is not open.
According to the parents, entertainment in children’s park is an important factor in the mental development of children and teenagers. But the park has been locked by the authorities for four years in the name of renovation or installation of modern rides. Now it is said that it will take another two years to install the ride. It is nothing but their indifference. But in this half century, a generation of children will be deprived of sports in the park.
In January 2019, DSCC announced its closure by hanging a notice in front of the park. It was said in the notification, “The Central Children’s Park will be closed for public in order to avoid untoward accidents as the development and modernization work of the Children’s Park is under implementation by the Ministry of Liberation War under the project titled “Construction of Independence Pillar (Phase III) in Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Udyan.”
According to the work orders of the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, the project was supposed to start in January 2018 and be completed by 2019. During the same period, Suhrawardy Udyan under the Shishu Park was planned to open after the completion of visitor car parking and some infrastructure renovations. But the project period has been extended till December 2024 by extending this time, said the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs.
Talking to the people involved in the project, it is known that DSCC will do the work of setting up modern rides in the children’s park. For this, the original allocation of Tk 265 crore to Tk 78 crore of the Independence Pillar Construction (Phase III) project was proposed to be given to DSCC. But DSCC objected to the allocation from the beginning. Due to such complications, the work of the park has not started till now.
An official of DSCC, who did not wish to be named, said that since the beginning, DSCC has told the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs that the existing rides in Shishu Park are dangerous and new rides should be installed. This allocation is insufficient for installation of rides and development of parks. A letter was exchanged for a long time about this. Ministry of Liberation War asked South City to modernize Shishu Park through a new project two and a half years ago. Later, DSCC prepared a project worth around Tk 650 crore and sent it to the Ministry of Local Government.
Later, DSCC prepared a project worth around Tk 650 crore and sent it to the Ministry of Local Government. This project of DSCC has not been approved yet. There is no specific information on when it will be.
On the surface, it can be seen that underground car parking is going on in most of the places where the children’s park used to be. The roof of the underground parking lot is about four feet above the ground. There is no information or 3D pictures about the model of parking or the design of the children’s park. Only a small tin on the gate says ‘Caution Park development work going on’.
When the journalist went inside, it was seen that most of the rides that were inside the children’s park now do not exist. Two separate carousel rides are surrounded by eight feet high tin. The jet plane donated by the Air Force is left in the bushes on the west side of the park. The plane is covered with dust and leaves. No workers were seen working. Water has accumulated in the underground parking lot.
On February 4 afternoon, Hafiz Uddin, a resident of Kanthalbagan area, went for a walk in Shahbagh area with two sons and daughters. By afternoon they came in front of Shahbagh Shishu Park. But turn back after seeing the lock on the park gate. At the same time some other parents were seen returning with the children.
Hafiz Uddin told that three years ago I saw the construction of parking under this children’s park. I still see no change in the previous situation. The main gate is locked. But there is no place in Dhaka for children and teenagers to visit.
He said, children could use six rides at the rate of only Tk 10 in this children’s park. Every day thousands of children and teenagers came from different parts of Dhaka. As the park has been closed for four years now there is no such noise of children and teenagers.
DSCC Chief Engineer Saleh Ahmed said that the project was sent to the Ministry of Local Government two years ago. From there the project went to the Ministry of Planning. The project is likely to be presented in the next meeting of the evaluation committee of the Ministry of Planning. If the project is approved, the tender process and infrastructure development of the park will begin. DSCC has no shortage of sincerity in this work.
However, he could not say anything about when exactly the modernization of the park will start, and when it will end.
According to the information of Mechanical Department of DSCC, in 1979 Shaheed Zia Shishu Park was established on 15 acres of land at Shahbagh under the initiative of Bangladesh Tourism Corporation. It started as a children’s entertainment center since 1983. Since then, Dhaka South City Corporation under the Ministry of Local Government has been supervising the park. The park had 12 rides including a toy train, a round Merry Go round ride and multiple wheels.
In 1992, a jet plane was given to the park as a courtesy by the Bangladesh Air Force.
Shaheed Zia Park now Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy Park
On December 30, 2021, in the 11th board meeting of the second council of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), the name of Shahid Zia Shishu Park was changed to ‘Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy Shishu Park’. Before this, a sub-committee meeting was held on December 22, 2021 regarding the naming of roads, buildings and structures under the jurisdiction of Dhaka South City Corporation. In the light of the recommendations of the meeting, the new name was proposed and approved unanimously.
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