Bangladesh Institute of Planners demands action against officials involved in the felling of the trees
The Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) has demanded that the implementation of development works through the felling of trees at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan be stopped immediately.
The BIP also urged the authorities concerned to conduct a study on how the proposed construction of restaurants would affect the environment of the historic site.
The BIP is the national professional organization of the planners of the country established in 1974.
Requesting policymakers to include planners in such project planning, the organization has demanded that the officials involved with the felling of trees be brought to the book.
“Shuhrawardy Udyan is a part of our history. The next generation will not be able to perceive the essence or importance of this place if we cut down the trees and fill it with concrete [structures],” Adil Mohammed, secretary general of BIP, said in a statement on Saturday.
“We could not build a new park even after 50 years of independence... We have only destroyed the existing ones,” he added.
“We could plant more trees, but we cannot control the ecosystem [of the place]. It is a place where many kinds of animals sleep at night. The ecosystem of the place will collapse if we use lights there,” Adil remarked.
BIP Vice-President Ariful Islam said: “Development implies the improvement in liveability; it cannot be achieved by cutting down trees. Trees are a must to build a sustainable city.”
He questioned the rationality of tree felling, saying: “The city’s air is already losing its humidity. Trees should cover 25% of Dhaka but the ratio is actually less than 5%.
“We talk about Singapore. But the green cover there is 47% in total. They preserve their nature first and then do the development works. Even if we plant 1,000 trees as compensation, it will not work.”
Rassel Kabir, joint secretary of BPI, said that it was an unofficial rule to fell the trees for development works, as “the trees are treated as mere objects, even though they are much more than that.”
Felling of the trees to make roads and houses, and now targeting this park would result in desertification, he warned.
Meanwhile, Md Ashraful Islam, project director at BIP, said: “I think our government has a lot of spare money which is why its officials introduce a new project every few days under the pretext of development.”
BIP Member Abu Taher stated that felling trees, razing hills and filling reservoirs to build structures were not the ways to develop Dhaka city. “We have to think properly about sustainability and our welfare.”
Project officials, however, maintain that they are not chopping off the trees unnecessarily.
"We hope that those who are denouncing the project now will appreciate it in the end, if they have the mentality for appreciation," M Habibul Islam, the project director, said on Saturday.