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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Tejgaon: Parks without recreation

Update : 26 Dec 2017, 11:08 PM
Farmgate Park is not a park filled with greenery. It is a dumpster riddled with potholes and infested with vermin. On paper it is known as Anwara Udyan, a quick Google search would identify it as Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Park, but Farmgate Park is how it is popularly known. The park bisects Indira Road in two one-way roads stretching from Manik Mia Avenue to Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, and is just a throw away from the parliament. Even so, it has not been able to maintain a clean nature. During the day, drug dealers, beggars and sex workers can be found stalking prospective patrons. Families prefer taking the long way around than cross through the park. It is, in essence, a symbol of how parks in Dhaka have fallen into a state of disrepair and reviled by the public. Anwar Hossain works in Farmgate and often goes to the park during his break. But whenever he sees the criminal activities taking place in broad daylight, it angers him.
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So much trash is dumped in the southern part of the park that it makes it impossible for pedestrians to not cover their noses. Despite the close proximity to the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, many people openly urinate against the park’s walls on the pavements along Indira Road. Aminul Islam, a fourth year student from Tejgaon College, says: “We come to hang out in the park because our campus is too congested and we have nowhere else to go. The park might be shabby and filled with shady characters, but it is all we have.” Aninda Rahman, a 12-year-old living in Tejkunipara, goes to the park to play cricket with his friends. He says no one has cut the grass in a very long time and he has lost count of how many balls have disappeared in the tall grass and potholes in the park. The pavement skirting the dilapidated park reeks of urine and a rich concoction of pungent smells Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneThe park has seen more religious events than children playing. But things seem to have taken a different turn this year when city corporation authorities refused the Kutubbagh Darbar Sharif to hold their upcoming annual religious gathering. Local residents have frequently complained of the problems caused by the annual event – in particular the noise pollution and the severe traffic caused by the attendance. A 2016 data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics says around 148,255 people live in the Tejgaon area. Tejgaon and Farmgate are key commercial areas in Dhaka. The existence of countless shops, offices, educational institutions and others in addition to the residential areas would naturally encourage anyone to expect a commendable swath of recreational space. Unfortunately, this area is no different than most parts of Dhaka in the dearth of parks.
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Afruj Jahan, a resident of East Rajabazar, told the Dhaka Tribune: “In the past, there were many parks here for children to play. Now, the rampant development has left very little room to breathe. There is the T&T Playground near my house where our children could play. But the field is controlled by two clubs who only allow their members to play there.” She added: “We cannot even take our children to parks anymore because of the unsavoury characters hanging about. This is why our children are forced to stay indoors and grow dependent on social media and video games.” There are also some small playgrounds found in Monipuripara, Sobhanbag Colony and Jahanara Garden area, but they are far too small. Chandrima Udyan, close to Monipuripara, is notorious for its abundance of sex workers, drug dealers and abusers alike, hijackers, and other criminal elements. Swapna Teresa Rozario, a resident of Monipuripara, said it is dangerous to even walk past the area after sunset because the criminal elements become increasingly active in the evening. But it remains a popular destination for some, including enthusiasts from Mohammadpur who cross Mirpur Road for morning runs. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre and the adjacent Army Memorial Museum field was a promising option for recreational open space, but both restrict access due to various reasons Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka TribuneMoreover, people also visit Hatirjheel, especially the Modhubag bridge area. But security remains a major concern for visitors, especially with some of the foot overbridges already notorious for being hotspots for hijacking. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre and Bangladesh Military Museum could have been two wonderful alternatives, but they rarely find crowds due to their expensive and exclusive nature. But one idea resonates among Farmgate and Tejgaon residents - the government must take necessary steps to clean up the parks and playgrounds and help make public places suitable for public use.
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