Anwara Udyan at Farmgate: Why build a market on park land

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

The idea of building a Station Plaza on Anwara Udyan located in Dhaka’s busiest Farmgate area is in no way acceptable. Since there were no other parks or playgrounds in Farmgate and its surroundings, Anwara Udyan was the only place of hope for the people in this area.

This was quite a familiar spot for children to go play or elderly people to go for walk. That park is no longer in its older shape. More importantly, its very existence is under threat.

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) was in charge of maintenance and development of Anwara Udyan which is under the possession of the public works department. With permission of the public works department, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) has been using the park as metro rail project office and for storing construction supplies since 2018.

The construction work of Uttara-Motijheel (MRT-6) metro rail is almost complete. It was said that the metro rail authority would restore the park to its original state once the construction work is finished.

Instead of doing that, DMTCL is rather planning to construct a metro rail station plaza there. DMTCL is speaking of running commercial activities like shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes or entertainment hubs out of there. In fact, some infrastructure has already been constructed there as well.

There were over 200 trees at Anwara Udyan. All the trees were cut down after the metro rail construction had been started. Once people used to rest or hang out chat at the park. Many used to exercise there in the morning.

Once the metro rail construction began, common people had no access there anymore. Now, if a station plaza is constructed there on commercial grounds, this park would be lost forever.

Prothom Alo reports that Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited has been given an ultimatum of 30 days to clear out of capital’s Anwara Udyan from a solidarity rally on 18 May.

If they do not vacate the park within this deadline, announcement has been given to hold sit in and besiege programmes. The solidarity programme was held by the organisation named ‘Farmgate Shaheed Anwara Udyan Rokkha Andolan’.

There’s no way of denying that fact that this demand made by the citizens is justified. At least 20 per cent of the total area of a city is supposed to be green and open to all. The amount of such area in Dhaka is less than 7 per cent.

Victim of unlimited encroachment and pollution, Dhaka has almost completely turned into a concrete jungle. In consequence of these, the capital has been rendered nearly ‘uninhabitable’. According to an international survey on habitability, Dhaka stood 137th among 140 cities around the globe.    

Even Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) wishes to develop Anwara Udyan to make it useful. It has been learnt through DNCC sources that 22 parks and playgrounds of Dhaka are being renovated under a project titled modernisation, development and greenification of open spaces. Anwara Udyan is also included in this development plan.

DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam recently stated that there’s no need of a station plaza or shopping mall at Farmgate. Already, there are many shopping malls but no open spaces in the area. There are no playgrounds either. A park is more essential there than the station plaza. We believe the decision to build a shopping mall on park’s land would be suicidal.

Despite applying to keep Anwara Udyan under their control, DMTCL has not yet been given the permission to put these lands in permanent use by the public works department. Hopefully, they will back out of their decision to build a station plaza in this place and the Anwara Udyan will be made open to general public.

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