The officers of the public works department said the trade fair has got a permanent address at Purbachal. For the first time, the fair was held at Purbachal in 2022. On the other hand, the place at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar that used to hold the fair remains empty for the last few years. As much as 30 acres of land at the heart of Dhaka cannot be left vacant. Many activities are taking place in that place.
Some are parking cars while others are arranging fairs. But the government is not being benefitted from any of them. They are planning to build a park in the old spot of trade fair as the department has received a green signal from the government high-ups that the secretariat will not be relocated.
Abdullah Mohammad Zobair, executive engineer of the public works department, told the Prothom Alo, "We have developed a project to build a park on vacant land at a cost of Tk 1billion. The park will have walkways. There will be facilities of sports for everyone. There will be a reservoir. We will send the project to the planning commission for approval.”
According to the documents of the public work ministry, the incumbent government took initiatives to relocate the secretariat to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar several times after assuming power in 2009. For this, a project worth Tk 20 billion was also taken. The original plan of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, including the national parliament building, designed by world famous architect Louis I Kahn, was brought to country, spending four million US dollars.
According to the design, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar was supposed to have four main buildings of nine stories with 14-story foundations. Apart from this, an auditorium, conference centre, mosque, bank, post office, 1000 car parking facilities were kept in the project area. But the government is backtracking from these plans.
Why is secretariat not being relocated?
Several officials of the ministry of public works said the secretariat now has a total of 11 buildings. Two multi-storied buildings are being constructed inside it at a cost of Tk 4.20 billion: one would be 20-storey and another 15. The construction of both buildings is expected to be completed by next year.
Moreover, a multi-storied building for the ministry of finance has already been opened inside the secretariat. On the other hand, an initiative has been taken to construct a 16-storey automatic (mechanical) car parking next to the building-4 of the secretariat. When the work of these projects is completed, the problem of accommodation of officials and employees in the secretariat will be solved. At the same time, the pressure of car parking will also be reduced.
The officials of the public works ministry said due to the security reason, the government backtracked from the decision of relocating the secretariat to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. Ganabhaban is very close from Sher-e-Bangla Nagar where the secretariat was supposed to be constructed. In light of the security concerns, the intelligence agencies have also expressed their objection.
Moreover, the ambience of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar is not like before and it is not considered as a suitable place for secretariat anymore.
Over the past decade, several government offices have been shifted to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar and Agargaon areas. However, car parking facility has not been kept in these offices. Due to the unplanned construction of buildings there, the traffic pressure has increased and the vehicles are parked on the road.
On the other hand, metro rail from Diabari in Uttara to Agargaon is scheduled to be launched next month. Then the traffic congestion will be increased. As a result, it may be difficult to cope with the pressure of people and cars.
Another reason is that the grave of BNP founder Zia-ur-Rahman may have to relocate in case of building the secretariat at the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area. The discussion of relocating Zia’s grave has been raised many times from government but the policymakers also keep in mind about the chances of creating controversy regarding the matter. As a whole, they think relocating secretariat to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar may not be good. Rather, the secretariat may be relocated to Purbachal in future.
Proposals of expenditure of building the park
An inter-ministry meeting took place at the secretariat on 16 November about the project of building the park at the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. Representatives of various ministries and agencies were present during the meeting which was presided over by housing and public works secretary Kazi Wasi Uddin.
The documents of the project state a proposal of over Tk 9.9 million has been proposed. It is the government who will bear all the expenses. Of the proposed budget, Tk 2.20 billion will be spent for building the walkway along the park.
It has been proposed to spend Tk 80 million for the lake, Tk 35.3 million to make the parking area, and 45 million to make the playground. Apart from this, the cost of LED lights, spot lights, sodium lights, cable control, and light fittings has been proposed to cost Tk 105.7 million.
According to the proposal, the fencing wall will cost Tk 73.2 million and buying instruments of exercise and children’s play will require Tk 16.5 million. The park will also have place to sit, toilet facility and children fun zone.
According to the documents initially the public works department estimated Tk 2.8 billion for the project. Later a committee, headed by additional secretary of housing ministry Hamidur Rahman Kham, was formed to justify the expenditure. The committee reduced the project cost to Tk 1billion.
Executive engineer of public works department Abdullah Mohammad Jobaer said the expenditure may be reduced once it is sent to planning commission. Then the project cost may be reduced.