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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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Businessmen to grab sports

Mayor, environmentalists decry bid to take over Dhanmondi public playground

The Dhanmondi Playground, which was under the control of Dhanmondi Club for a long time, could be under the hands of powerful businessmen soon. Photo: SK Enamul Haq

A limited company of powerful businessmen will soon take over Dhanmondi playground, earmarked in the city's master plan as a common field, to build there a mini stadium with exclusive sports facilities much to the chagrin of local residents.

Dhanmondi Club, now a limited company, has been named after Sheikh Jamal, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's slain brother, said sources.

Noted environmentalists denounced the move and said the playground is a public property, which will now serve the business interest of a group of affluent people.

During the military rule of Ershad, Public Works Department (PWD), the official custodian of the playground, designated Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) to maintain it.

The playground, however, has been under the control of Dhanmondi Club since 1962 without any legal authorisation of the authorities concerned.

PWD division-2 (Dhanmondi) executive engineer Abdul Kader Chowdhury said there is no scope for a public playground to be used for any commercial purposes.

“Dhanmondi is a residential area and I think no authorities will give approval to a plan for a stadium in a residential area,” he said.

Such a stadium will just destroy the residential character of the area with the onrush of people and vehicles, he said, adding: “A stadium in our country invariably means hundreds of shops and other commercial establishments.

DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka said, “A limited company does not have any mandate or scope to convert a playground the way it was planned.”

The company will have an eleven-member executive body and a governing body, which include Bashundhara Group chairman Shah Alam, Nitol Group Chairman Abdul Matlub Ahmed, and Rupayan Group chairman LA Mukul, said Kader, president of the limited company.

Partex Group Chairman MA Hashem's son Shawkat Aziz Rasel will be a key member of the executive committee.

“We have already obtained formal consent of the head of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Trust Sheikh Hasina for giving a name to the club,” said Kader.

Kader, former football in-charge of Abahani Club Limited and Muktijoddha Club, said it is a modern-day concept to turn a sports club into a limited company and we will follow the law while taking over the playground.”

The club members will be entitled to use the facilities but local football and cricket teams will also be able to use it as a practice ground, he said.

Immediately after the Eid vacation the renovation to the ground will begin, he said.

The club was formed in the pattern of Dhaka Club Limited, Gulshan Club Limited and Uttara Club Limited,” said Kader, “The affluent businessmen included in the governing body will provide with the fund.”

Prof Muzaffer Ahmad, a permanent Dhanmondi resident and president of environmentalist movement Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, said, “A certain quarter is exploiting the sentiment and name of the prime minister's family to extract business benefit.”

It is a common public property and should not be turned into a private zone, said Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury, an old resident of Dhanmondi and head of a high-level advisory committee of DCC on development of parks and playgrounds.

Dr Shahdeen Malik, a Supreme Court lawyer and a permanent resident of Dhanmondi, said it has to be resolved first on what legal ground a limited company will take over a public playground.

Even if the government allows it, he said, “It must be done through a public hearing.”

It will be a violation of the wetland and open spaces conservation act made by the past Awami League government, said Mubasshar Hussein, president of Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB).

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The same old grabbing tactics, this time in the name of Digital Bangladesh.

All concerned people must stop this practice.



Rajuk and DCC should convert it to a safe children's playground. Dhaka utterly lacks in safe children's playground. In fact, they should build children's playground for every community and any new housing development should include a playground for children.

: Nisar Ahmed


  • Ahmad
    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 08:16 AM GMT+06:00 (332 weeks ago)

    I think there must be some open space in the city, especially this one. Dhaka is very crowded and kids and people must have some breathing space. If you look to your right and look to your left, you can see only buildings.

  • nasarullah
    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 08:34 AM GMT+06:00 (332 weeks ago)

    We claim , we are living in civil societies respecting the rules and laws but on the other hand we are following the rules might is right.

    We must maintain the peaceful living environment of the locality for the sake of good habitant and healthy atmosphere but not to meet the interest of certain affluent classes, those who have been always look at the profitable business for self interest. All those people named are the business magnet of the country, only believe of their own development rather to social and public interest. I am sure the honorable prime minster would be able to under the gravity of this play ground open for all and would take the right decision for the public interest not to keep the interest of the vested quarters.

  • A Ahmed
    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 10:44 AM GMT+06:00 (332 weeks ago)

    Is anyone really surprised? The people behind this venture did not get rich by accident--they are using the same playbook that they have used before to grab power, money, property, and previleges. The real surprise will be if they are unsuccessful this time!

  • Babul Nokrek
    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 06:25 PM GMT+06:00 (332 weeks ago)

    Great work has been done by the reporter.

    Now it's our turn to do something to save the ground from the grabbers!





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