Vol. 5 Num 1069 Mon. June 04, 2007  
Star City

Swadhinata Stambha
Design of glass tower yet to be finalised

Construction work of Swadhinata Stambha (Independence Monument) in Suhrawardi Udyan may take a couple of months more to complete as the design of the 100-foot glass tower is yet to be finalised, said officials of Public Works Department (PWD).

Akkas Ali Mollah, superintendent engineer, PWD, and project director of Swadhinata Stambha, said the first phase of the project is expected to be complete within a month.

"First phase of the construction work (without the glass tower) would be completed by June 30. The second phase, which includes the glass tower, may take more time as the design of the tower has not been finalised," he said.

Sources said that almost 90 percent of the monument's work has been done.

But the work is getting delayed due to frequent revisions of its components and budget. It has been dragging on for the last nine years.

The work began with an estimated cost of Tk 81.27 crore in July 1998 when Awami League was in power. The BNP-led government stopped the work after taking office in 2001. Then the work remained suspended for three years.

After some revisions the government revived the project at the end of 2004 curtailing the cost to Tk 76.03 crore. The then prime minister Khaleda Zia hurriedly inaugurated the monument on October 22, 2006 without the glass tower.

According to the original design the height of the tower was 100 feet and the estimated cost of its construction was Tk 1,75 crore. The design was revised in 2001 increasing the height to 150 feet. The tower's design was changed for the second time in August 2004 lowering the height to 100 feet and the cost to Tk 1.75 crore again.

On the basis of the last revised project proposal (PP), tender was invited four times but no firms responded to the bidding.

The Ministry of Liberation War Affairs the asked the Department of Architecture to plan a 100 feet tower. The PWD estimated that this tower would cost Tk 5.60 crore, much higher than the earlier estimate.

Due to the increase in expenditure the Planning Commission asked the ministry to prepare a fresh PP (project proposal) for the tower.

Sprawling over an area of 67 acres the memorial has been designed to honour all the martyrs and heroes of the Liberation War. It includes murals depicting the history of the war and the struggle for freedom from 1948 to 1971.

The memorial also includes an underground theatre, an underground museum, an amphitheatre, a display gallery and a decorative fountain.

Suhrawardi Udyan, formerly known as the Race Course Maidan, was selected for the memorial because Pakistan Army surrendered here on December 16, 1971.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his historical speech of March 7, 1971 on this ground urging all to prepare for a fight to liberate the country.

Frequent visitors to Suhrawardi Udyan said that most parts of the park are open to the public and the overall atmosphere of the park improved. But until the Swadhinata Stambha opens, the park would not get back its glory.

Sohel, a young man who comes regularly to the park, said, "We play cricket, football and golf in the field. We have access to most parts of the park. The overall atmosphere of the park is better now."

An aerial view of Swadhinata Stambha in Suhrawardi Udyan. PHOTO: Syed Zakir Hossain