Chandrima Udyan, also known as Zia Udyan, has become a den of antisocial and criminal activities keeping at bay the city dwellers from visiting one of the very few eyesoothing green spots in the capital.
Even during daytime people are involved in petty criminal activities. Drug addicts, pushers, sex workers and their pimps prowl around the park making it impossible for city dwellers to visit it.
A number of visitors told this correspondent that they would not visit the park in future as they thought it was no more a decent place.
Azharul Islam, a resident of Mohammadpur, who was with his wife and two children, said: “I had heard a little about the atmosphere of the udyan, but never imagined this sort of social degradation.”
“If I had known about this condition, I would not have come here with my family or even alone.” he added.
Chandrima Uddan is located to the north of the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban and the east of the Ganabhaban, Prime Minister’s residence.
The park is notable for being the burial place of the former president and founder of the BNP Ziaur Rahman.
Illegal establishments, drug addicts, hookers, muggers and petty criminals have robbed the park of most of its beauty.
Shefali Begum, who has been living with her family in the park, claimed herself to be a staff of the Public Works Department (PWD), the authority that oversees the Chandrima Udyan.
“I am a staff of the PWD and work in the complex of the grave of Zia-ur-Rahman. I live here (park) in small sheds because there is nowhere else to reside,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Cricent Lake and the entire park including Zia’s grave and the pond have become stinky due to lack of proper maintenance. The park is littered with unwanted substances.
“After the sun sets, the Chandrima Udyan goes under the control of drug addicts and peddlers, floating sex workers, their associates and clients,” said a staff of the PWD.
There are allegations that security guards, including Ansar members, extort money from prostitutes and drug dealers.
Md Saiful Islam, a senior Ansar member denied the allegation, and said: “We are active round the clock to prevent unsocial activites.”
“As many as 20 Ansar members were appointed to secure the movement of visitors in the park,” he added.
When contacted, Md Kabir Ahmed Bhuiyan, chief engineer of the PWD, told the Dhaka Tribune that the illegal structures set up in the park was beyond his knowledge.
“If illegal establishments have been built in the park, it would have been evicted immediately. I will direct the officials concerned to evict the illegal establishments if there is any,” he said.