Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 65, Tuesday April 28, 2009




City Parks

An expanse of flowers and foliage, benches to lounge on and soft grass to lie on with birds chirping and children playing in the background or even a brook that murmurs back at the soft breeze… Living in a metropolis like Dhaka where concrete buildings are wedged on each side by narrow lanes, with motor vehicles puffing up fumes down your throat, a park can be a real breather indeed.

Unfortunately this city doesn't have much to offer by way of green spaces and most of those that do exist are desperately crying for attention and better maintenance. The parks enjoyed by the earlier generations in the older part of the city, lie in a state that leaves very little to envy. The Bahadur Shah Park, popularly known as the Victoria Park, which takes up a relatively small area in the Lokkhi Bazar vicinity is currently gobbled up by a stage or platform used for cultural activities. With not an inch of grassy patch, some lone old trees inside are the only reminder of its better days. The Gulistan Park covers a huge area with a pond in its compound. What could have been restful haven amid the municipal mayhem had a huge structure built in its midst known as the “Mohanagar Natto Moncho”. The park is in a pathetic state of upkeep, with homeless citizens crowding it all day and anti-social elements undulating at night. There is the Nawab Bari Park and the LalBagh Killa Museum Park in the Sadarghat area, which are still very popular with families crowding them in late afternoons. As both these parks have entry fees their general environment is relatively better.

Some of the parks are in a fairly decent shape. The Osmani Uddayan is huge in size with cool shades overhead and a lush grassy base with a quiet stream that simply makes one forget the madding crowd only a short distance away. Situated right across the Police Headquarters and recently deployed round-the-clock police vigilance, the general environment in this park is quite secure at all times of the day.

But Ramna Park steals the crowning glory. It is by far the best, not only in terms of its size but also in the lush green beauty that it boasts in the middle of this choking metro. It draws in perhaps the highest number of health conscious citizens in the mornings and late afternoons. It has a stream running through most of its length with benches along the bank. This is perhaps one park in Dhaka where one could enjoy a blissful time of solitude. There is also a fairly decent restaurant offering Thai and Chinese cuisine situated inside the park with a separate gate leading to it from the main road. But sadly, the anti-social elements have not spared it in their search for nocturnal mischief. While most of these parks have slides and swings for children and exercise bars for the more health conscious citizens, they could all do with some regular maintenance both in terms of security and upkeep.

There are very few parks in Dhanmondi and its adjacent areas. Those that did have some latent merits have succumbed to the demands of sports grounds. As a result the residents are resorting to the Dhanmondi Lake embankments in their quest for outdoor relaxation. Another most sought after spot in this area is the Zia and the Sangsad Uddayan where people of all social levels are seen having a good time. However, since these are not compounded areas as in parks, one's relaxation is often marred by the presence of relentless beggars. This is indisputably a favourite with young daters and filmmakers.

There are quite a few parks in the Gulshan, Banani, D.O.H.S and Uttara areas all distinguished for their measured walking tracks. The one situated on Gulshan North Avenue is fairly serene with a small lake inside it. There is another one on the other side of the road which is also popularly known as the “Auntie Park” that even has hidden speakers that allow its users to enjoy music at certain times of the day. The parks in these areas are reasonably well maintained also in terms of security but they lack in greenery especially the ones in Uttara.

One common feature that binds almost all these parks is their poor state of maintenance that leaves much to be desired. The DCC would do well to take this up as a priority issue. It little needs saying what an important role a park can play in the healthy physical and mental development of our children and its therapeutic effects on people of all ages and origins.

By Shaily Fatima
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


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