Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam on Thursday announced that the 70-katha open space by Paris road intersection in the capital's Mirpur-11 area will be used as a playground.
The announcement has fulfilled the long cherished dream of local youths – school and college going-students who have been on a protest for the past few days for the ground, led by Ward-3 Councilor Gazi Zahirul Islam Manik under the banner "Paris Road Ground Restoration Committee".
"Although the DNCC ward-3 accommodates about 3 lakh people and more than 60 educational institutions, it has no playground. For the sake of people, I will create facilities for playing here," the mayor said as he came to the Paris Road to show solidarity with the students' movement.
"Children will play here. I will play with them," he added.
The DNCC mayor said, "We have heard that some are trying to construct buildings here. That won't benefit anyone."
The field was kept as an open space in the plan of 1965 and the recently published Detailed Area Plan (DAP) for Dhaka, according to the DNCC.
But in reality, there was a slum until 2016. Meanwhile, in 1996, the National Housing Authority allotted the site for 32 residential plots.
The plot owners, however, could not take possession there as slum dwellers sued them when they tried to do so. In 2016, the slum was evicted following a court order. The land has been left abandoned since then.
Expressing wonder at the mayor's announcement, Aslam Parvez, who received a plot there from the National Housing Authority, told The Business Standard that the land belonged to the housing authorities and was allotted to 32 owners in 2002.
"32 owners got this land as plots from the National Housing Authority. No field or open space have been shown there. If it happened, plot allocation was not possible," Kaushar Morshed, executive engineer of the National Housing Authority, said while talking to TBS Thursday.
Dhaka North City Corporation Chief Urban Planner Maqsood Hashem, however, told TBS that the land was shown as an open space even in the DAP. "It must not be used as a residential area as per Water Conservation Act," he added.
When contacted, Mayor Atiqul Islam said alternative land will be allotted to those who have been given plots.
"Our city almost has no playground or park. In the area of Mirpur-11, there is no more vacant space. As the land has been kept as open space in the DAP, construction will not be allowed on this site. I promised the children the land will be used as a playground,"
Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam told TBS.
"If the housing authorities have allotted plots there, let them make re-allotment somewhere else. We will help the authorities if needed."