Bangladesh is chock-full of monuments, buildings, and other sites of tremendous historic, cultural, and aesthetic importance.
Sadly, we have not done a good job of preserving them.
The recent removal of 18 heritage structures which have been removed from the list of heritage sites considered to have “historic, aesthetic, scientific, and social importance” shows a callous disregard for our own history.
This removal comes due to pressure from Old Dhaka residents -- owners of said sites -- who felt that the list made it difficult for them to upgrade or make repairs, since doing so required the permission of Rajuk, the central governmental authority on the matter.
The grievances of the property owners are not totally unfounded. The government should, indeed, have a more pro-active approach towards protecting these sights. Owners of property which have cultural and historical significance should be compensated, and the authorities need to take an active interest in preservation and repairs.
At present, the process for owners to make repairs remains a convoluted one, and Rajuk would do well to implement a simpler and hassle-free procedure to ensure that residents are more willing to cooperate.
At the end of the day, a nation’s heritage sites are central to its cultural identity, and also a major draw for tourists.
As we move towards the future, we must not forget our past.
Other countries around the world have recognized the importance of preserving their heritage, and that certain architectural treasures are irreplaceable.
Let us also keep our history alive, for future generations.