- Three/four pillars of Elevated Expressway to be installed at the park
- Work of Tk19.20 cr project started for its beautification
- Now become shelter for drug addicts, muggers, others
- Environment pollution for dumping wastage here
"Baba, do you not walk in the park anymore? Why did its owner leave the open space in an abandoned and dilapidated state? Can't kids play here now?"
It is a conversation between a 15-year-old Yasir Ali and his father Yakub Ali while they were walking along the Panthokunjo Park, located opposite Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital city.
Not only Yasir, everyone walking around the park as well as people residing nearby have common queries about the park, situated in the middle of two important streets – Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue and CR Datta Road.
The triangle-shaped park has been left abandoned and in a dilapidated state for more than three years although the Dhaka South City Corporation has undertaken a Tk19.20-crore project for beautification of the park. After a slight progress, the development work of the park was halted by the corporation, showing a lame excuse.
The city corporation left it abandoned, citing probable installation of Elevated Expressway pillars, helping the open space turn into a garbage field and shelter of criminal acts.
While talking to TBS, Yakub Ali said, "If the park opens to all without leaving it abandoned, people in the area would have had a place to breathe and those who have children like my son would also have a place to play."
People are falling prey to snatching at different times while walking along the park in the evening as it now becomes a garbage field and shelter of criminal acts, he alleged.
In a spot visit, this correspondent saw the fence erected around the Panthokunjo Park almost in decrepit condition. Inside of the park was covered with bushes, garbage and plastic bags. The drains which were constructed as part of its beautification work have now become breeding places for mosquitoes and insects. Bricks and concrete were seen laying on the open place of the park.
The authority of the park said for the ongoing project of Elevated Expressway, it is not possible to continue the development work of the park. If the development work continues before the fixation of the pillars of the expressway, it may be detrimental for the park.
Dhaka South's ward councillor Mohammad Asaduzzaman told TBS that the park got the present decrepit state due to the postponement of its development work. The corporation is now thinking of reopening the park to people in the prevailing state.
Accepting that many kind of criminal activities occur there, the councillor said some untoward incidents occur inside the park after night thanks to roaming by few hijras and floating sex workers. The corporation and the police are helpless to them.
Dhaka South's Superintending Engineer (Civil) and Park Development Project Director Munshi M Abul Hashem told TBS as per the elevated expressway's design, some pillars of the mega infrastructure will be installed at the park, causing a halt to its development work.
Dhaka South City Corporation Superintending Engineer (Environment, Climate and Disaster Management) Md Khairul Baker said "If the expressway authority fixes the pillar installation points, we can continue our development work."
Regarding Panthokunjo Park, mayor Sheikh Fazle Nur Tapos said, "We want to protect the park and create an aesthetic atmosphere here, as if locals can use it and enjoy nature also."
"We told those involved in the Elevated Expressway project to use a small space of the park for the expressway. Moreover, they were asked to implement the project, keeping the park's environment intact."
He said development work on the park has been put on hold to save the government money from wastage.
However, Elevated Expressway project director AHMS Akter told The Business Standard "We fixed the points at the park where we will install the pillars. So there is no bar to continue the park's development work."
He also said, "In a 30-meter gap, three to four pillars will be installed at the south side of the park, not in the middle of the park. We talked to the Dhaka South mayor and provided a drawing of our project. So the City Corporation can do its work for the development of the park."
Under the "Jal Sabujer Dhaka" project undertaken in 2017 for the development of 31 parks and development playgrounds in the city, the modernisation of the park started in September 2018.